The Different Routes to Mental Health

By Burton, Jane E. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 12, 1994 | Go to article overview

The Different Routes to Mental Health


Burton, Jane E., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


In response to the competition for patients and the prospect of managed health care, mental-health practitioners are engaged in an ongoing - and fruitful - debate about therapies. Unfortunately, two unhealthy, extreme positions have emerged. The first is the so-called "medical model" of mental illness: the belief that all mental illness is biochemical and therefore treatable with medication.

The second position is taken by those who advocate the "talking cure"; they believe that all emotional problems are caused by painful experiences and can be healed only if sufficient time is allotted for psychotherapeutic intervention.

The controversy exemplifies the age-old problem of "nature versus nurture" in science. The "medical model" represents the "nature" end of the spectrum while the "therapy only" position ascribes all emotional or behavioral problems to deficiencies in "nurture."

The solution to patient care will reject either extreme.

The most rigid adherents of the medical model, usually psychiatrists, claim that patients fall neatly into the diagnostic categories described in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual," and that these conditions have biochemical or genetic causes and so are amenable to treatment with medication. Enthusiasm for this view grows as more studies show correlations among genetics, brain physiology and human behaviors.

This "medical model" represents not only a naive reliance on a nature-based, biochemical treatment but also an understandable human wish for a cure, a pill to alleviate the pain.

As an experienced psychotherapist, I have seen the "fallout" from psychiatrists' overzealous application of the medical model. A patient once told me that she had seen a a psychiatrist for four years for depression. He had prescribed combinations of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, but nothing seemed to help her. The patient saw the doctor weekly for 15-minute sessions at a rate of $125 per hour, but she complained that he never once asked about her daily life, her relationships or how she coped with the world.

After months of psychotherapy without medication, the patient understood that losses and psychological damage in her life provided sufficient basis for feeling sad. Depression was a result of life events, not merely a biochemical disorder.

Ultimately, all of our thoughts and feelings are brain-based and therefore biochemical at the molecular level. But a person's emotional life is more complicated than a purely biochemical problem, such as diabetes, which is easily medicated. Psychotherapy and psychiatry are baby sciences, still in the Dark Ages compared to physics and astronomy. Much is still not known.

Psychiatrists may decry the lack of medical knowledge on the part of non-medical professionals, such as clinical social workers and psychologists, and they have a good point. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Different Routes to Mental Health
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.