Monday, August 4, 2008
Regarding the purview of psychiatry, there is always the option of delimiting it to the classic syndromes: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe major depression. Fencing these off from the messy domains of anxiety, substance abuse, and personality disorder is certainly tempting. Indeed, sometimes it seems we suffer from category mistakes, and that problems of living are no more psychiatric than, say gun control issues are medical. Heart attacks kill people, and so can nuclear weapons, but that doesn't mean that both are equally the bailiwick of the medical profession. Similarly, depression and unhappiness both cause psychic distress, but they are not equally psychiatric. What is the discipline, though, that deals specifically with problems of living as opposed to mental disorder?