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Wall between neurology and psychiatry

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 05 October 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:778

Neuropsychiatry is alive and well

  1. Howard A Ring, senior lecturer in psychiatry (
  1. Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB
  2. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh EH4 2XU
  3. Department of Psychiatry, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Edinburgh EH10 5HF
  4. Norfolk Mental Health Care NHS Trust, Norwich NR6 5BE

    EDITOR—In your theme issue on neurodegenerative disease, the “wall between neurology and psychiatry” is referred to on several occasions. In the editorial by Baker et al the need for a fundamental alliance between mental health and brain illness is discussed.1 Kale in his article makes a case for the proposition that “the mind is a function of the brain.”2 Not only do I and many of my colleagues agree with this: we and others have also made big steps in removing this “wall” between the two specialties. Although Kale goes on to consider the dualism that has psychiatrists and neurologists who think that the two are separate, it seems to me that this belief in the distinction between “neurological” and “psychiatric” disease is often held by some among the general public and the wider medical community, where it arises from a stigmatising view of psychiatry. It suits some to be able to consider “real” neurological disease arising from brain pathology as distinct from psychiatric disturbances arising from weak moral fibre or bad breeding.

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    There have always been both neurologists and psychiatrists who have understood the close relation between …

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