Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Editorial: Alternative Treatments in Mental Health

Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Editorial: Alternative Treatments in Mental Health

Article excerpt

Every linguist will explain that the usage of any word varies in time and place in the same language and that the meaning of the word depends on those who use it. In the early 1950s the concept in medicine that chemical compounds could affect the brain was still new and discounted by many psychoanalyticallyoriented psychiatrists. In that context the early orthomolecular movement was a forerunner of all of biological psychiatry. The concept as described in the paper by John Hoffer that opens this issue was that brain disorders could be a consequence of genetic mutations leading some individuals to require higher doses of essential nutrients than other people. Such individuals would present with behavioral disorders similar to the well known brain disorders that could be caused in any individual by avitaminosis. The logic of this hypothesis is indisputable; the existence of such cases has still not been proven.

The concept however that natural substances, whether essential nutrients or not, can affect the brain has become increasingly subject to excellent empirical research in recent years. The substances studied have been as varied as the biochemical content of the brain which contains in a "natural state" thousands of distinct chemicals. Many of these could rationally be theorized to have a role in behavior and might be worth testing in animal models of mental disorder and if safe also in patients with mental disorder. If mental illness is the highly heterogeneous result of many different kinds of central biochemical deficiencies, each in a very small number of patients, it could become difficult to prove the efficacy of any one compound in controlled double blind trial of unselected patients with a particular diagnosis. Therefore, future progress will very much depend on individual clinicians all over the world who might find a particular compound helpful in a particular patient and who should thereafter perform an ABA trial and report his results. In this context excessive adherence to a highly specific definition of "orthomolecular psychiatry" could be counterproductive. An analogy might be psychoanalysis which was clearly an innovative and heuristic theory and treatment at its origin but which gradually inspired a plethora of psychotherapies based to varying degrees on childhood learning models and other psychological models of human behavior and behavioral pathology. Those who argue about the definition and purity of psychoanalysis are probably the least influential group within the psychotherapies today. Abram Hoffer, one of the founders of orthomolecular psychiatry in the 1950s, recently received the Dr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.