What is Psychiatry?

In its ongoing attempts to define, understand, and categorize disorders, and determine the best treatments, the medical specialty of psychiatry is always up against the protean complexity of the human brain. Both biological factors and environmental factors contribute to symptoms of distress, and the role each plays varies from person to person. Both psychotherapy and drugs are effective for most psychiatric disorders, and often a combination of the two works best, although the effects kick in on different timetables.

Recent Posts on Psychiatry

The X Factor: Genetics and Female Mental Health

XIST, the gene that controls X chromosome gene expression, is up regulated in psychosis, just as the imprinted brain theory predicts.

Beyond the Toddler Years

We are continuing our exploration of the three pillars of human development--Affects (Feelings), Language, and Cognition. This month we wrap up the section of Language by examining the link between feelings and words, a process we call translation.

When The Apple Falls Close to the Tree

In many cases, children with clinically significant psychiatric symptoms have a parent or other family member(s) with the same, often undiagnosed, issues.

Psychiatry Headed into the Future or Off A Cliff?

Two Chinese investigators, Ying Wu and Zhiguang Duan at Shanxi Medical University, have recently tried to assess highlights in psychiatry since the 1960s. They analyzed references in 85, 612 papers published in 10 leading psychiatry journals, using a variant of who-cites-whom analysis, to identify central issues. This is not a method of establishing truth but rather of te

Managing ADHD During the Summer

ADHD is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties in many aspects of children’s lives. Often when school is out during the summer, many parents consider taking their child off medications. Here are some tips to help decrease behavior problems.

A Treatment for Despair and Loss of Meaning

A famous Talmudic question asks: “What is truer than the truth?” The answer: “The story.” This is the story of my personal journey in search of meaning and the development of an approach to care for patients with advanced cancer, which I came to call “Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy.”

When to Sue Your Psychiatrist for Malpractice

By Ruth Lee Johnson J.D. on June 24, 2015 in So Sue Me
Many cases of psychiatric malpractice are never reported because the victims are already emotionally unstable. What exactly does it mean for a psychiatrist to commit malpractice?

Social Media in a Successful Psychotherapy Practice

By Kristi Pikiewicz PhD on June 24, 2015 in Meaningful You
Learning how to navigate the new terrain of social media in a professional manner is integral to the success of a psychotherapy practice.

When Bipolar Disorder Moved Into the House

By Hara Estroff Marano on June 24, 2015 in Brainstorm
In this new film, a bipolar father learns to take care of his two daughters Or did they take care of him?

23 Mental Health Professionals Interviewed About Their Jobs

By Brad Waters on June 24, 2015 in Design Your Path
Going behind the scenes with 23 mental health professionals to gain insight into the pros and cons of the industry.

Developments in the Treatment of PTSD Nightmares, Part 1

"What Dreams May Come: Treating the Nightmares of PTSD" was a blog post I published in November 2013. It remains a very popular post, which continues to receive many views and comments. In light of this, on 5/22/2015 I interviewed Dr. Murray Raskind about his pioneering work in the field of PTSD and the treatment of nightmares.

Trends in Youth Psychiatric Treatment: The Plot Thickens

A major new study looks at changes in the rates of child psychiatric disorders and their treatment. Its combination of both good and bad news will be a challenge to the cherry pickers on both sides of the psychiatry debate.

The Psychology of Delusions

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in A Sideways View
What different types of delusions do people suffer from?

Headquarters? What Headquarters? Behind Pixar's Inside Out

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on June 22, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
Inside Out is a fantastic movie, highlighting the inner life of a girl, with plenty of positive female role models in the form of emotions. Sadness is the unlikely hero. We learn a lot about childhood vulnerability, emotional regulation, and adaptation. But emotional regulation, and the idea of a “Headquarters” in our mind, bear a closer look.

Testing the “Extreme Female Brain” Theory of Psychosis

The “extreme female brain” theory is added to the extreme male one of autism, but both add up to much less than the imprinted brain theory.

When Racism Motivates Violence

By Joe Pierre M.D. on June 22, 2015 in Psych Unseen
Looking at implicit biases about race to understand violence and violence prevention.

Mass Shootings, Psychiatric Medications, and Rick Perry

By Joe Pierre M.D. on June 20, 2015 in Psych Unseen
Psychiatric medications cause violent behavior? Where's the evidence?

Humanizing the “Mentally Ill”

Want evidence to believe in the human spirit? Want to see how the world looks from the most stigmatized element of society? Check out Infinitely Polar Bear.

Tackling the Emotions in Borderline Personality Disorder

People with borderline personality disorder have one of the most challenging psychological problems to treat. Furthermore, if you or someone you know is in a relationship with someone who has this disorder, you know how difficult it can be to live with the disorder. Mentalization-based therapy, focused on emotions, may provide an important new approach.

Why Patients with Borderline Personality Don't Get Better

People who exhibit symptoms of borderline personality disorder, despite being intelligent and showing no signs of psychosis, persist tenaciously in their troublesome, self-destructive behaviors. They will not stop no matter what other people try to do to get them to. They will not tell you about the horrifying reactions they get from family members when they act better.

Medical "Disruptors" as Adolescents

Entrepreneurs with "disruptive" business models are driven idealists and rebels, impatient with current practice. In this way they are like adolescents. Our future is in their hands, but they need guidance.

Climate and Suicide

Decades of data link increases in temperature to higher violent suicide rates. What sort of factors could be at play, and what questions need to be answered to help us understand this linkage better?

Reflections on Therapeutic Mastery, Part 2

Excerpts from a personal interview, continued

Does Chronic Anxiety Increase Dementia Risk in the Elderly?

People who develop Alzheimer’s disease have abnormal proteins accumulating in their brains decades prior to the appearance of symptoms. Individuals who have an anxiety disorder during the pre-symptomatic phase of dementia display more rapid cognitive deterioration than non-anxious individuals.

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Is Evidence-Based Treatment All It's Cracked Up To Be?

Evidence-based treatment sounds great. There's just one problem: if the evidence is faulty or irrelevant, so is the claim based on it.

The FDA, the DSM, Gender Equality, and “Female Viagra”

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on June 08, 2015 in Side Effects
Concerning the demand for "female Viagra," will the FDA succumb to lobbyists accusing it of gender bias?

The Psychopath Whisperer at Work

A visit to the Mind Research Network offers an update on Kent Kiehl's work on the psychopathic brain.

Depression During Pregnancy Requires Detection and Treatment

Depression during pregnancy requires treatment.

Positive Psychiatry: The Next Chapter for an Evolving Field

It’s time for psychiatry to move towards being true physician experts in mental health, not just mental illness. This means going beyond psychotherapy and medications treatment by incorporating validated wellness strategies in the day to day work with patients and families.