Psychiatry and fads: why is this field different from all other fields?

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Psychiatry and fads: why is this field different from all other fields?

Can J Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;58(10):555-9

Authors: Shorter E

Fads in psychiatry are little more than bad ideas with short half-lives. They have arisen because of the great discontinuities that have swept psychiatry unlike other specialties in the 20th century: the transition in the 1920s from asylum-based biological psychiatry to psychoanalysis, and the transition in the 1960s from psychoanalysis to a biological model based on psychopharmacology. In no other medical specialty has the knowledge base been scrapped and rebuilt, and then again scrapped and rebuilt. In these great transitions, when psychiatry each time has had to reconstruct from scratch, bad ideas have crept in with good. Psychiatry, in its heavy use of consensus conferences, is often unable to employ science as a means of discarding fads, which, once installed, are often difficult to remove. Each of the great paradigms of psychiatry in the last hundred years has given rise to fads, and psychopharmacology is no exception, with faddish uses of neurotransmitter doctrine claiming centre stage. Only when psychiatry becomes firmly linked to the neurosciences will its subjugation to the turbulence of faddism be moderated.

PMID: 24165101 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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