In Daniel Moseley & Gary Gala (eds.), Philosophy and Psychiatry: Problems, Intersections, and New Perspectives. New York: Routledge. pp. 29-35 (2016)

Justin Garson
Hunter College (CUNY)
This book chapter is a short response to a paper by the psychiatrist Nicholas Kontos, on the phenomenon of psychological symptom amplification (PSA). PSA takes place when patients present symptoms to clinicians that they do not actually have, or, perhaps more commonly, they exaggerate symptoms they do have. Kontos argues that, because of modern medical training, it is very difficult for clinicians to recognize that the patient's presented symptoms are exaggerated or nonexistent. I argue that the hiddenness of PSA is a result of far-reaching instutitional changes that took place in American psychiatry in the 1970s. In short, many psychiatrists went from seeing mental disorders as (unconscious) strategies to seeing them as dysfunctions, nothing more. Recognizing PSA involves adopting a perspective that has been effectively abolished in contemporary American psychiatry.
Keywords philosophy of psychiatry  mental disorder  biological functions
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