Mind–body dualism, psychiatry, and medicine

Michael Sharpe and Jane Walker

in New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199696758
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743221 | DOI:
Mind–body dualism, psychiatry, and medicine

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Patients usually attend doctors because they are concerned about symptoms. When these symptoms are associated with persistent distress or disability we refer to the patient as having an illness. When assessing the patient's illness the doctor aims to make a diagnosis, on the basis of which management can be planned and prognosis made. The diagnoses available to doctors are conventionally defined as either ‘medical’ or ‘psychiatric’. This division of illness into two types is such an accepted feature of current medical practice that we tend to take it for granted. But is it really the best way to think about patients’ illnesses and to plan their care? In order to answer this question we will examine what is meant by ‘medical’ and ‘psychiatric’ diagnoses and the assumptions underpinning this division. The disadvantages of this dualistic approach will be considered and solutions proposed.

Chapter.  2006 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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