Perspective 2 ... 'psychiatry is not a medical speciality ... '

But that is not the only voice from within the profession and academic discipline of psychiatry. Like Nick Craddock, Pat Bracken is also a consultant psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry. He, like Craddock, was able to convene an impressive collection of like-minded psychiatrists and, like Craddock, set out their opinions in an editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry.5 Which argued almost exactly the opposite. Pat Bracken and colleagues suggested that the vast majority of mental health problems should be understood from the perspective of social psychiatry - as normal, human responses to difficult social circumstances. And therefore Pat and colleagues argued for a social, psychosocial, empathic response.

There is some value in directly contrasting the views of Nick Craddock and colleagues with those of Pat Bracken and colleagues. Craddock and colleagues suggest that ' ... Psychiatry is a medical specialty. We believe that psychiatry should behave like other medical specialties', whereas Bracken and colleagues argue that 'Psychiatry is not neurology; it is not a medicine of the brain.' Craddock and colleagues warn that it is 'imperative to take action' to address the negative consequences of 'the scepticism of some psychiatrists towards biomedical explanations of illness' whereas Bracken argues that 'good psychiatry involves active engagement with the complex nature of mental health problems [and] a healthy scepticism for biological reductionism ... .' And Craddock and colleagues are concerned that ' ... [recent changes have placed insufficient] ... weight on medical fundamentals ... ', whereas Bracken and colleagues counter that ' ... good practice in psychiatry primarily involves engagement with the non-technical dimensions of our work such as relationships, meanings and values.' To drive the point home: psychiatry is either a branch of biological medicine ... or it's not, that scepticism of biological reductionism is either harmful . .. or necessary, and a focus on the technical aspects of medicine is either fundamental ... or a distraction.

 
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