A psychiatrist once told me that the only thing that would constitute a radical opinion in Psychiatry today was actually agreeing with what Psychiatry does. In lecturers and discussions on mental health, inevitable discussions arise regarding the legitimacy of Psychiatry as a discipline. Critiques tend to come in one of two forms. The first is largely a political rejection of psychiatry that critiques the legitimacy of its evidence base, power, diagnosis and the role of pharmaceutical medications. As Psychiatry has sweeping powers over the individual, involving loss of liberty and the involuntary administration of mediations, these critiques are tremendously important. All institutions should be held to account.
However, there is another debate within Psychiatry itself about the nature of its role. Very often political critiques do not always recognise these internal debates. Psychiatry too battles with the wider dilemmas that are echoed by its critics. The Psychiatric Times has published a fascinating debate between a critic and and a supporter of Psychiatry. In this interview, Dr Aftab and Dr Pies revisit several debates concerning various criticisms of psychiatry that Dr Pies has been involved in over the course of his career, and they discuss how to make sense of the profession’s relationship with its critics. Their discussion is wide ranging but is an interesting example of the debates which occur within the discipline itself. To read the debate click here.