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Mind and brain: building bridges linking neurology, psychiatry, and psychology 

Mind and brain: building bridges linking neurology, psychiatry, and psychology

Mind and brain: building bridges linking neurology, psychiatry, and psychology

A. Zeman



This chapter was reviewed in January 2015 and minor changes made.

Updated on 30 Jul 2015. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 30 March 2017

Here is one view of the relationship between medicine and psychiatry. Physicians study, diagnose, and treat disorders of the body; psychiatrists (by contrast) study, diagnose, and treat disorders of the mind. Medicine has to do mainly with processes in objects, such as the circulation of blood to the kidneys; psychiatrists concern themselves mainly with the experiences of subjects, such as auditory hallucinations. Medical disorders are ‘organic’; psychiatric disorders are ‘functional’. Medicine is mainly a science; psychiatry mainly an art. The brain, on this view, occupies an ambiguous position, poised between body and mind: it is an ambiguous intermediary, a skilful interpreter between the languages of mind and body. Nevertheless, disorders of body and mind can and should be rigorously distinguished.

This chapter examines and questions these assumptions, which are not universally held but are widespread and tenacious, and have some practical importance. They influence the way that doctors approach patients and train students, and they underpin a deep theoretical problem in biology, the puzzling relationship between body and mind. A century of research on the biological basis of cognition, mood, personality and behaviour, and much recent writing in philosophy, points to the need to rethink these time-honoured beliefs.

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