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Compr Psychiatry. 1995 Nov-Dec;36(6):397-406.

The biopsychosocial paradigm and the future of psychiatry.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, New York Medical College, Valhalla, USA.


Although hazardous, prediction is necessary for sensible programming for the future of psychiatry. Because of the multitude of variables essential for comprehending normal and abnormal behavior, a complex, all-encompassing model takes on increasing importance. Dualism and reductionism have had a chilling effect on progress in developing psychiatric models. The biopsychosocial model as elaborated by Dr. George Engel would appear to be a major step in moving toward an adequate workable model. Dr. Engel rejects the biomedical or Newtonian model in favor of the biopsychosocial model, basing his conception in part on developments in the past century, particularly the contributions of Einstein, Heisenberg, and Planck. The implications and relevance of these advances, including the work of Niels Bohr, are presented. Other ideas such as Chaos Theory and the work of Roger Penrose are also discussed, together with the new thinking that arises from them. This work reinforces notions of holism, leading to a more humanitarian psychiatry and medicine.

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