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From alienist to collaborator: the twisting road to consultation–liaison psychiatry 

From alienist to collaborator: the twisting road to consultation–liaison psychiatry
From alienist to collaborator: the twisting road to consultation–liaison psychiatry

Don R. Lipsitt

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date: 19 December 2018

For many years, philosopher-physicians and then general physicians were hospitable to the notion that mind and body were inseparable. Mind and body were thought to be related, no matter how primitively. The ancient Greek philosophers were hardly the first to ponder the issue. Prehistoric tribes believed that bodily ‘possession’ could be ‘treated’ by drilling holes in the skull to get at the presumptive source of the ‘problem’. Even ecclesiasts believed that the residence of the soul was most likely in the brain, although influential throughout the body. The advent of specialization was very likely the enemy of the integrated wholeness of mind–body relations. To counteract reductionist trends of medicine, efforts to reassemble the mind–body composition have been vigorous throughout history. An avalanche of endeavours to pull mind and body back together have punctuated the literature, clinic efforts, and certain avenues of research. At least since the beginning of the 20th century, these efforts to put the ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ of mind and body, psychiatry and medicine, back together again, have struggled against the impediment of Cartesian dualism. In this endeavour, the growth of consultation–liaison psychiatry, as one aspect of the profession, has perhaps shown the greatest promise.

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