Choosing a Specialty: A Letter to a Medical Student


In this letter to a medical student considering pursuing psychiatry as a specialty, psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi cautions that unlike other medical specialties, psychiatry can pose ethical dilemmas, and any efforts to reform the field will be met with resistance.

“The diagnoses found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are created as social constructions, as preferences of the profession—not solely, or even primarily, as scientifically based definitions. For two decades, our profession has bound itself to these social constructions and pretended that they were scientific facts. This has been proven a lie, but we are unwilling to admit our self-deception.”

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    (Psychiatrist, Professor Nassir Ghaemi).

    Not however, plagued and suffering on any level comparable with those whom psychiatry has so terribly abused and injured, or killed with the most toxic drugs ever used by the medical profession.

    Radovan Karadzic was a psychiatrist in Sarajevo.

    At the Hague, he described himself as:

    “I’m a mild, tolerant, understanding man”.

    “Instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for the good things I have done”.

    Self deception perhaps?