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Approaches to the Mind: Movement of the Psychiatric Schools From Sects Toward Science

Marjorie C. Meehan, MD
JAMA. 1973;226(7):796. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03230070054028.
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All psychiatrists agree that their purpose is to help people who are mentally or emotionally disturbed. But that is about all they agree on. Are the people they treat suffering from a disease, reacting to a social situation, or merely playing a role? Should they be treated physically, intellectually, or emotionally? Should the psychiatrist try to make a definite diagnosis, attempt to understand the development of the patient's problem, or offer symptomatic treatment? Many authors have attempted to compare the various schools of thought and to bring about a synthesis or at least to find some common ground. Leston Havens compares several schools and pleads for a pluralistic approach.

Havens identified four major schools. The objective-descriptive school, introduced by Kraepelin, utilizes careful examination and history taking, regards the patients as suffering from a definite disease that it is the doctor's duty to identify and treat. The behavior therapists, lobotomists, practitioners


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