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Psychiatry and Its Checkered Past: Perspectives on Current Practice 

Psychiatry and Its Checkered Past: Perspectives on Current Practice
Psychiatry and Its Checkered Past: Perspectives on Current Practice

Judith Puckett

and David Shumway Jones

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date: 03 March 2021

This chapter examines the history of critiques that have been made of psychiatric practice in specific times and specific places. Though psychiatry is well-established as part of the medical profession and requires completion of a medical education all doctors receive, psychiatrists are often viewed as distinct from other doctors, and psychiatry continues to be viewed negatively in the public eye. Psychiatrists themselves have been partly to blame for this; the profession originally spent decades attempting to differentiate itself from the other medical professions. Since it is not possible to cover every aspect of the history of critiques of psychiatry, the chapter focuses on two major problems that continue to influence how psychiatry is practiced and perceived today: the development of asylums as a form of confinement for those who are mentally ill, and the development of psychiatric nosology and diagnosis. By exploring the continuum of mental illness and the idea of “normal versus abnormal,” the chapter offers psychiatrists a framework for how they can think about their work going forward.

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