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Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2015 Oct;24(5):368-70. doi: 10.1017/S2045796015000608.

Descartes' dogma and damage to Western psychiatry.

Author information

1
University of Foggia,Foggia,Italy.
2
Institute of Psychiatry,Psychology & Neuroscience,King's College London,London,UK.

Abstract

René Descartes described the concept of mind-body dualism in the 16th century. This concept has been called his error but we prefer to call it his dogma because the error was recognised much later. We studied the original writings translated by various scholars. We believe that his dogma has caused tremendous amount of damage to Western psychiatry. This dualism has created boundaries between mind and body but as we know they are inextricably interlinked and influence each other. This has affected clinical practice and has increased the dichotomy between psychiatric services and the physical health care services in the West at least. This dualism has also contributed to stigma against mental illness, the mentally ill and the psychiatric services. We propose that it is time to abandon this mind-body dualism and to look at the whole patient and their illness experiences as is done in some other health care systems such as Ayurveda.

KEYWORDS:

Diagnosis; history of psychiatry; models/theories of psychiatry; social and political issues

PMID:
26333032
DOI:
10.1017/S2045796015000608

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