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Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry

Mens Sana Monographs
Medknow Publications
Publication Date
  • Msm Book Review
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology


“If you shut your door to all errors, the truth too will be shut out…” …∼Rabindranath Tagore This tome was passed on to me by a dear old classmate, now a psychiatrist in Canada, who attended the last Annual Conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society (ANCIPS 2007), with a smirk and a whisper, “Here, you might want to get started on weight lifting at least now!” Her whisper was not merely for dramatic effect; she was clearly out of breath from wielding the heavy volume, a freebie from the conference that I was unable to attend. Weighty it is indeed, and for those who relish intellectual sparring, with insights into the raison d'etre of our discipline, there could be no better and closer-to-complete reference volume. The interface of the vast domains of philosophy and psychiatry is considered in five parts; the division, albeit (and even inevitably) artificial, greatly facilitates reference to particular relevant material. The first part is “Core concepts in philosophy and mental health,” which includes some fundamentals of the two disciplines, a broad review of the Szazian antipsychiatry and its tenets, as also the arguments against these. Framed well are the usefulness and limits of the medical model. The topic of psychopathology is introduced here. Boorse's distinction between illness and disease is elaborated. In the second part, “A philosophical history of psychopathology,” there is a succinct summary of the history of concepts of mental illness. The phenomenological approaches of Karl Jaspers and Edmund Husserl are expanded upon and the limitations of a purely phenomenological approach are rightly emphasized. “Philosophy of science and mental health” is the third part, wherein the philosopher J.L Austin's notions of the nature of science, the place of psychiatry—and indeed of psychology—in the realm of the sciences (often so grudgingly granted by other well-recognized ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ sciences), and Freudian psychoanalysis are deliberated upon. The importance of

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