Psychiatry in the age of neuroscience: the impact on clinical practice and lives of patients

Poiesis and Praxis 6 (1-2):43-55 (2008)
Due to the progress being made in the neurosciences, higher expectations for the use of medication, even against the patient’s will, are arising in mental hospitals. In this article, we will discuss whether the neurosciences and new psychopharmacological solutions really support patients who suffer from mental illnesses. To answer this question, we will focus on the perspective of patients and their experiences with psychiatric (coercive) treatments. The analysis of one person’s story shows that other issues besides appropriate medication are important for recovery from a mental illness. In daily life, issues such as coping, rehabilitation and social support are of major importance for a patient suffering from psychiatric disease. Thus, although progress in the neurosciences is a positive development for clinical practice, it does not mean that (coercive) medication alone will carry a patient into recovery. A patient’s recovery is dependent, not only upon the process of finding the appropriate medication and trust between the psychiatrist and the patient, but also upon relational aspects, such as being recognised as a person, belonging, accepting responsibilities, developing friendships and trusting others. These findings lead to the conclusion that dealing with psychiatric diseases is more complex than what the biomedical model of neuroscience suggests and that one should include the social context of the patient in the recovery process
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DOI 10.1007/s10202-008-0057-z
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