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Mind and body split

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 15 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:601

Philosophy can be detrimental to doctors

  1. Philip A Sugarman, medical director (
  1. St Andrew's Hospital, Northampton NN1 5DG
  2. Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo, Colombo 08, Sri Lanka

    EDITOR—Bracken and Thomas raise the old chestnut of the Cartesian mind-body split and offer some formidable names (such as Wittgenstein and Heidegger) to address it.1 However, their suggestion that patients would benefit if more doctors studied the philosophy of mind is neither appealing nor evidence based.

    Unfortunately the histories of psychiatry, philosophy, and politics are alike in that they have been dominated by radical intellectuals. The contribution of many of these has been largely to sow confusion and conflict. It is all too easy to believe that these intimidating authorities and their followers give weight to one's own views and justify preaching one's own prejudices. Bracken and Thomas are prone to this fault—they are the self proclaimed gurus of British “post-psychiatry,”2 named to imply that they have …

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