“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.”
~ Sir William Osler (Canadian Physician, 1849-1919)
Most psychiatrists, and many patients, sense that psychiatry is in trouble these days. The reasons are complex, but boil down to a crisis of confidence: many in the general public — if they ever had faith in psychiatry — have begun to lose it.
Many psychiatrists who, like me, began their careers with hopeful idealism are now expressing pessimism or cynicism. Here, too, the reasons are complex, and have much to do with the sense that psychiatry has drifted away from its core values and central mission: the relief of human suffering and incapacity. Of course, the corrosive influence of “Big Pharma” and the gradual decline in the use of psychotherapy have contributed to this down-beat attitude.
And the highly-publicized dust-up over revision of psychiatry’s diagnostic classification — the DSM-5 (what the media love to call, “Psychiatry’s Bible”) — has certainly not filled psychiatrists with joy.