Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Psychology and Psychiatry

I once knew a guy who was an aircraft engineer, by all accounts very good at his job and something he enjoyed doing, however he didn't like flying- in fact he was afraid of it and had only attempted it once or twice ever in his life.

The thing is that didn't make him less of an engineer, nor does it make the confident frequent flyer anything of an expert in mechanics or avionics.

There may be some argument to say that if he worked designing the interiors of aircrafts, that his lack of flying experience might have made it difficult for him to make the ergonomics just right for flyers, but even then his inexperienced perspective might allow him to see the aircraft from a different perspective than someone who may be desensitized through the course of regular travel.

These are some of the thoughts that struck me when I read a recent Guardian article on psychiatry.

The British Psychological Society's Division of Clinical Psychology, in what is seen as a rather bold move, have issued a statement to the effect that it's time for a paradigm shift in how mental health is understood; specifically that the biomedical model that sees unpleasant feelings and unwanted behaviour as a sign of physical illness, is not the best approach.

This comes ahead of the release of DSM-5, the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's handbook for diagnosing 'mental disorders'.

There is no question that drugs impact behaviour, however just as in flying there is a focus both on good mechanical maintenance and on flight crew training and skill, I can't help but think that the same can be said for psychology.

The Guardian article can be read here.

Information on the new DSM 5 can be found here.

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