How new is the new philosophy of psychiatry?

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2:22 (2007)
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Abstract

In their recent paper, Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton evaluate seven volumes of the Oxford University Press series “International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry,” an international book series begun in 2003 focusing on the emerging interdisciplinary field at the interface of philosophy and psychiatry. According to Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton, the series represents a clear indication that the interdisciplinary field of philosophy of psychiatry has been flourishing lately. Philosophers and psychiatrists face a “new philosophy of psychiatry”. However, the optimism which the “new” philosophy of psychiatry celebrates is precisely the exiling of philosophy from the foundations of psychiatry. The 150 year old belief that psychopathology cannot do without philosophical reflection has virtually disappeared from common psychiatric education and daily clinical practice. Though the discipline of psychiatry is particularly suited to contributions from philosophy, the impact of philosophy on psychiatry nowadays remains limited. With some exceptions, philosophical papers are embedded in a philosophical context inscrutable to ordinary psychiatrists. Much current philosophical work is perceived by psychiatrists as negativistic. I would encourage the field of psychiatry to incorporate once again basic philosophical attitudes which render possible true dialogue with philosophy and enrich both disciplines. The views developed here should not discredit the value and importance of Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton’s paper and the excellent series “International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry.” As Jaspers said “Everybody inclined to disregard philosophy will be overwhelmed by philosophy in an unperceived way”

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