Kings College London psychiatrist and World Psychiatric Association President Dinesh Bhugra has announced in The Lancet Psychiatry that the journal is launching a commission of inquiry into the future of psychiatry. Bhugra recently co-authored a Lancet commentary that attacked Peter Gotzsche and the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry, describing their criticisms of antidepressants as “extreme” and “irrational.” In a new, freely-available commentary, Bhugra observes that a “major division exists between social psychiatrists and biological psychiatrists” that is threatening the credibility and stability of the entire profession. “Psychiatry is in transition and divided: with no clear sense of direction, we risk walking towards the edge of a cliff,” Bhugra writes.
In his commentary, Bhugra concedes that, “First among the internal threats to psychiatry is the often scandalous history of the profession, including appalling human rights abuses in asylums and the profession’s inability at times to challenge these.” He also describes the profession today as “embattled and divided,” and notes that, “Psychiatry’s history of diagnostic confusion, including the medicalisation and inappropriate treatment of individuals with normal human emotions and experiences, remains a topic of debate and a matter of concern.”
“What is the role of the medically trained professional in modern mental health care? What does the medical approach add, and what are its disadvantages?” asks Bhugra. To respond to these questions and the many challenges facing psychiatry, Bhugra writes that, “The Lancet Psychiatry is starting an independent Commission, Psychiatrists of the Future. It will consult with professionals, trainees, and service users. Readers of The Lancet Psychiatry will be kept updated on the process as we collect information and move towards publication.” There is no indication in the commentary about how to participate.
Alienated alienists: a new hope? (Bugra, Dinesh. The Lancet Psychiatry, Early Online Publication. August 13, 2014 doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)70283-4)