What is Psychiatry?

In its ongoing attempts to define, understand, and categorize disorders, and determine the best treatments, the medical specialty of psychiatry is always up against the protean complexity of the human brain. Both biological factors and environmental factors contribute to symptoms of distress, and the role each plays varies from person to person. Both psychotherapy and drugs are effective for most psychiatric disorders, and often a combination of the two works best, although the effects kick in on different timetables.

Recent posts on Psychiatry

Male Risk of Autism: No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Stigmatizing autism research as "sexist" for finding a gender difference in risk is not going to help us discover the truth about it.

DEPRESSION: WHAT ABOUT KETAMINE?

By Monica N. Starkman M.D. on August 20, 2017 in On Call
Depression: what about ketamine? For those considering being treated with it, here is recent information from clinical experts.

Psychiatric Treatment as Religious Experience

Like all religions, psychiatry's aim is social control and the explanation of deviant and socially undesirable human behavior.

Breatharians...or Believe Anythings?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on August 17, 2017 in Psych Unseen
Four reasons why normal people can come to hold ridiculous beliefs.

What Are the Roots of Distress Among Refugees?

Research is changing the way we address the mental health needs of refugees.

Introduction to Integrative Mental Health Care

Are you curious about new ideas in mental health care? Integrative mental health is a new paradigm that uses treatments from Western medicine and alternative medicine (CAM).

Is Smoking Marijuana During Pregnancy Harmful?

Recent research demonstrates significant changes in the brains of developing fetuses as a result of marijuana exposure during pregnancy.

Can mental illness ever be good for you?

A recent book on the poet Robert Lowell raises some fascinating questions about the relation between bipolar disorder and creativity

The Cerebellum May Be Part of Brain's "Reality-Check" System

By Christopher Bergland on August 11, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Researchers at Yale University have identified a link between the cerebellum (Latin for "little brain") and someone's susceptibility to Pavlovian conditioned hallucinations.

Diluting the Gold of Analysis

Not all psychotherapies are created equal.

Criticizing a Saint Part 2

Revisiting the decision not to interview Viktor Frankl.

Teen Therapy Without Parental Consent

Should adolescents be able to consent to initial mental health treatment without their parents? On this issue, state laws are all over the place.

Psychiatric Assessment is Evolving

Are you trying to understand what is causing your anxiety, depressed mood or another mental health problem? New approaches in assessment are providing better answers!

Is Connectivity Neurofeedback Training the Next Big Thing?

By Christopher Bergland on August 07, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists have developed a technique called "functional connectivity neurofeedback training" that can alter cognitive function and performance. This could be revolutionary.

All the Stars of Food and Mood

The best and the brightest of nutritional psychiatry have come together for an amazing conference at the nation's capital.

The Psychiatric Scapegoating of Michelle Carter

The woman convicted in the texting-suicide case is guilty of no crime.

Mold Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms

By Judy Tsafrir M.D. on August 03, 2017 in Holistic Psychiatry
Could your depression, anxiety, brain fog and insomnia be due to toxic mold? This is a very treatable condition, but first you must recognize that mold toxicity is the cause.

All Things Considered

By Susan Rako M.D. on August 01, 2017 in More Light
How can we help our patients make peace with what they have in life?

The "High-Risk" Psychiatric Patient

In medicine and surgery, a "high risk case" means the patient is at risk. In mental health, sometimes it's the doctor.

Nature vs. Nurture and Depression

Variations in the serotonin re-uptake transporter can make big differences in the lifelong risk of depression. How did this discovery happen, and where do we go from here?

Identifying Challenges Effecting Veteran Mental Healthcare

Why are veterans continuing to struggle?

Gulliver’s Travels: Another Classic Portrayal of Autism

Gulliver’s Travels can be read as an autistic’s satire on a society into which he does not fit: neither physically nor mentally.

The Political Uses of Psychiatric Labels

The "Goldwater Rule" and the psychiatrization of sociopolitical conflict.

Psychiatric Diagnostic Labels: What Do They Mean?

Why is diagnosing Trump such a hot news topic, controversial, and confusing?

The Dean of USC's Medical School Used Addictive Drugs

By Stanton Peele on July 26, 2017 in Addiction in Society
When a prominent medical school dean was revealed to have used so-called "addictive drugs" before, he was terminated instantly due to what school authorities called his "disease."

The Hubris of Neuroscience

Pop neuroscience represents a reductionistic misapplication of knowledge, ignores differences between persons, and negates explanations of human conduct in terms of free will.

Misreport Spreads That Psychiatrists May Now Diagnose Trump

As misunderstood news spread that psychiatrists may now comment on Trump's mental condition, the American Psychiatric Association sought to correct the mistake.

A Possible New Treatment for Post-Partum Depression

A neuroactive steroid whose levels increase dramatically during pregnancy and then fall rapidly after delivery is reported to be effective in treating post-partum depression.

Mental Illness as Strategy: Game Theory and Psychiatry

Mental illness--like depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia--is a game, a strategy, invented by the player (often without acknowledgment) to achieve some end, or "payoff."

Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry: Autonomy vs. Heteronomy

The psychiatrist as state agent, the psychoanalyst as contractual helper.