The Philosophy of Psychiatry: A CompanionBMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7485.260 (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:260
- Raj Persaud, Gresham professor for public understanding of psychiatry and consultant psychiatrist
- Maudsley Hospital, London
Every day doctors have to make difficult decisions, often when on the run and under great pressure, that have serious repercussions for their patients; and no one seems grateful when the messy process is all over. So the profession understandably rolls its collective eyeballs skywards when philosophers start pontificating about medicine. It's all very well to wallow in the niceties of philosophical analysis—but what is the practical help to us, doctors will demand impatiently, when yet another book on philosophy and medicine thumps onto the ever growing (dusty?) pile in this category.
Philosophy attracts intense suspicion from those who are deeply impressed by medicine's apparent progress, driven by conventional science, because philosophy has a nasty tendency to show that we doctors are not forging forward quite as quickly as we like to imagine.
For example, this collection of philosophical contributions asks some uncomfortable questions that are usually too quickly glossed over in modern medical practice. But perhaps the reason this volume is better than conventional philosophical analyses …