Conceptual Competence in Psychiatry: Recommendations for Education and Training

This paper by Awais Aftab and G. Scott Waterman has been published in Academic Psychiatry. It begins:

“It has been recognized since the early days of modern psychiatry that conceptual and philosophical questions are intimately tied to more practical and clinical issues such as classification, diagnosis, and treatment. For instance, in the early twentieth century, philosopher and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers argued in his magnum opus, General Psychopathology, for the importance of phenomenological thinking and methodological pluralism [1]. The evolution of the interdisciplinary field of philosophy of psychiatry in the last few decades, with its analytic outlook and renewed focus on examination of fundamental concepts in psychiatry (sometimes dubbed the ‘new philosophy of psychiatry’ [2], is in many ways a philosophical response to the criticisms of the antipsychiatry movement. The highly controversial and heavily contested claims of Thomas Szasz that mental illness as a category does not exist and is a ‘myth’ relied on philosophical arguments regarding the nature of mental disorders [3]. The outright rejection of psychiatry as a medical enterprise by Szasz and others such as R.D. Laing and Michel Foucault was itself rejected by most psychiatrists, though many also recognized that academic engagement with the philosophical questions raised by such criticism was warranted [2]. The resulting body of academic work has addressed important topics such as the role of values in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, the nature of causation and explanation in psychiatry, and the scientific status of psychiatric classification  …”

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