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How new is the new philosophy of psychiatry?

DOI: 10.1186/1747-5341-2-22

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In their recent paper, Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton evaluate seven volumes of the Oxford University Press series "International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry". Launched in 2003, "International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry" is an international book series focusing on the emerging interdisciplinary field at the interface of philosophy and psychiatry.Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton identify three broad interconnected themes in the series: the role of values in psychiatric diagnosis and treatment; the question of the place of understanding subjects' experiences, their meanings and the relationship of understanding to natural scientific explanation, and the scientific status of the 'facts' or 'evidence' that contribute towards psychiatric diagnoses. The three themes correspond with the three main parts of Tim Thornton's new book "Essential Philosophy of Psychiatry" meant to be a concise introduction to the growing field of philosophy of psychiatry. The first part, Values, outlines the debate about whether diagnosis of mental illness is essentially value-laden and argues that the prospects for reducing illness or disease to plainly factual matters are poor. The second part, Meanings, examines the central role of understanding and a shared first person perspective, both against attempts to reduce meaning to basic information-processing mechanisms and to explain away the difficulties of understanding psychopathology. The third part, Facts, shows the importance of uncodified clinical judgments, both in assessing the validity of psychiatric taxonomy and in the application of Evidence Based Medicine.According to Natalie Banner and Tim Thornton, the series represents a clear indication that the interdisciplinary field of philosophy of psychiatry has been flourishing lately. There has been recent growth in the philosophy of psychiatry during the past fifteen years. Philosophers and psychiatrists face a "new philosophy of psychiatry" in addition to ana


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