Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Is Psychiatry Turning Into Neurology?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 17, 2016

I went to a Psychiatry Grand Rounds yesterday where the topic was “Post-stroke Apathy,” presented by a neurologist, describing the brain mechanisms of personality change. Suddenly, the obvious hit me. “Do you think that the future of psychiatry is that it will be folded into neurology and the psychiatry field, as we know it, will simply die?” I asked my friend and colleague sitting next to me, hoping she would protest the notion, but instead, she looked at me with a clear expression of “duh”. Oh my, it is that clear, and oh my, I have been in denial, and oh my, I really am a dinosaur. Psychiatry is trying to understand the brain, not the mind, and as such, it has more in common with  neurology than psychology, and so there you have it. Neurobehaviorists, will perhaps be the new name for Psychiatrists. Therapy will, in the future, be done by mostly non-MDs, since very few MDs are getting psychotherapy training, and the little they do get, is not enough to sustain a career of deep thinking about human motivation. Landscapes change, and so it is.

2 Responses to “Is Psychiatry Turning Into Neurology?”

  1. Shelly said

    You remind me again of the state of psychiatry in my part of the world. When someone suffers a severe affective disorder, the health fund sends the patient to a psychiatrist, who diagnoses a neurological issue. The neurologist, stumped, says it is a psychiatric one, and dumps the patient back into psychiatry. And back and forth it goes. Nobody claims the patient, and the patient falls through the cracks–without treatment. Psychiatry without understanding the effect of the disorder on the brain (neurology) will never be able to help patients where I live. And neurology, without understand the psychological impact of mental disorders on the patient, will also never be able to help them either.

  2. Yes. The situation is grim. However, on the other hand, in my psychoanalytic psychotherapy class I have 3 (out of 8 students) psychiatrists. Maybe there is a glimmer of hope, at least in certain pockets of the world. Thanks.

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