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Controversy in Psychiatry

Marjorie C. Meehan, MD
JAMA. 1978;240(21):2333. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290210115054.
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Perhaps the only thing psychiatrists agree on is the existence of controversy in their field. Brady and Brodie have prepared a comprehensive survey covering 26 topics of disagreement. On each subject they invited authors, whose viewpoints were expected to differ, to expound their views.

The topics covered include psychosurgery, the future of psychiatry as a medical specialty, the future of psychoanalysis, electroconvulsive therapy, behavior therapy, and community psychiatry. Many writers express their well-known opinions—Szasz opposes involuntary hospitalization while Hollender defends it "under some circumstances." Kolansky and Moore emphasize the danger of marijuana, which Grinspoon and Bakalar minimize. Money and Ambinder discuss surgery for transsexualism, while Stoller insists the indications are unclear. Bazelon, Rappeport, and Halleck each discuss the varying role of the psychiatrist in the criminal justice system.

On some topics, the authors do not so much disagree as express different aspects of the issue. In many cases they write


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