Sunday, January 01, 2017

Reassessing sociopsychobiological psychiatry

In a BJPsych article, Will Davies & Rebecca Roache (2017) identify a philosophical research programme for reconceptualising George Engel's biopsychosocial paradigm. I have always argued that Engel's biopsychosocial model and, before that, Adolf Meyer's psychobiology are the historical bases for critical psychiatry (eg. see previous post and my article).

Like me, Davies & Roache recognise the value of the biopsychosocial model and disagree with Nassir Ghaemi, who rejects it. I do not totally agree with them, though, that Engel did not try and provide details about how his model should work but this was primarily in relation to psychosomatic disorders. Yet, they are right, as is Ghaemi, about the eclectic way in which the model is used in current practice which is why I prefer the term 'sociopsychobiological' (see previous post). There have also been other recent attempts to reconsider the biopsychosocial model (see another previous post).

Still, their philosophical perspective is welcome. Critical psychiatry, as does the biopsychosocial model, has ontological, epistemological and moral implications for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. These are practical implications, for example for the Reseach Domain Criteria (RDoC) project mentioned by Davies & Roache (see eg. previous post). These philosophical issues require more rigorous scrutiny.

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