1st Edition

Understanding Mental Disorders A Philosophical Approach to the Medicine of the Mind

    178 Pages 54 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    178 Pages 54 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Understanding Mental Disorders aims to help current and future psychiatrists, and those who work with them, to think critically about the ethical, conceptual, and methodological questions that are raised by the theory and practice of psychiatry. It considers questions that concern the mind’s relationship to the brain, the origins of our norms for thinking and behavior, and the place of psychiatry in medicine, and in society more generally. With a focus on the current debates around psychiatry’s diagnostic categories, the authors ask where these categories come from, if psychiatry should be looking to find new categories that are based more immediately on observations of the brain, and whether psychiatrists need to employ any diagnostic categories at all. The book is a unique guide for readers who want to think carefully about the mind, mental disorders, and the practice of psychiatric medicine.

    Part I: What is Mental Disorder?

    Chapter 1: How psychiatry, unlike the other branches medicine, leads us into philosophy

    Chapter 2: What makes a mental disorder mental?

    Chapter 3: What makes a mental disorder disordered?

    Part II: Psychiatry and Society

    Chapter 4: Two ways in which social factors can contribute to mental disorder

    Chapter 5: Are we changing people when we should be changing societies?

    Chapter 6: Sexuality and Disobedience

    Part III: Classifying the Disordered Mind

    Chapter 7: Does psychiatry focus excessively on putting people into boxes?

    Chapter 8: Why does psychiatry struggle to get its classificatory scheme in order?

    Chapter 9: The question of accuracy

    Chapter 10: Couldn’t we do psychiatry without differential diagnoses?

    Chapter 11: The question of helpfulness

    Isn’t it all better explained by the brain?


    Daniel Lafleur, MD, CM, FRCPC is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

    Christopher Mole, BA (Hons), PhD is a professor of philosophy, and chair of the Cognitive Systems Program, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

    Holly Onclin, BA (Hons) is a graduate of the Honours in Philosophy program at the University of British Columbia and a freelance illustrator in Vancouver.

    "By interspersing short chapters, equally short endnotes and incisively-curated follow-up readings with a mix of illustrations, the three authors, a psychiatrist, a philosopher, and (for our purposes) a visual artist, have produced a veritable page-turner.... On the whole, this book offers a fair-minded, and measured defense of key tenets of present day medical psychiatry. Extreme positions, including mind-body reductionism, are rejected, and person-centered approaches to care find favor. In their preface the authors note the hoped-for readership of this volume: psychiatrists and other medical practitioners, and also those who encounter psychiatric diagnosis in other ways, such as patients. But we can add a further group. This would be an ideal text to introduce to the philosophy of mental health undergraduate students in philosophy or to graduate students in other disciplines." Jennifer Radden, Metapsychology Online Reviews