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Psychiatry as a Hybrid Discipline

  • G. E. BerriosEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences book series (THHSS)

Abstract

Developed along an extraordinarily creative life, Rom Harré’s views on both the natural and social sciences can also illuminate the problems of Psychiatry. Constructed during the early 19th century, Psychiatry was from the start a hybrid discipline, that is, a conceptual cento made from fragments taken from philosophy, history, psychology, rhetoric, the nascent sociology and the neurosciences. Pulled in all directions by the very disciplines that once lent it support, Psychiatry still yearns to develop its proprietary epistemology (Berrios and Marková in Re-visioning psychiatry. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 41–64, 2016). As his doctoral supervisee at Oxford, I learnt from Rom that the first step when dealing with the epistemological teething troubles of an inchoate discipline is to identify the models (Rothbart in Modeling: gateway to the unknown. A work by Rom Harré. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2004) and powers (Harré in Dispositions. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 211–233, 1970) that help it to legitimize its claims and activities. As an homage to this quasi-eternal thinker, I will outline one aspect of the work carried out by the Epistemology of Psychiatry Group in Cambridge that connects well with Rom’s ideas, namely the conceptualization of ‘mental illness’.

Keywords

Psychiatry Hybrid discipline Epistemology Models and powers 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cambridge UniversityCambridgeUK

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