Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art & Science in Psychiatry

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art & Science in Psychiatry

Article excerpt

S. NASSIR GHAEMI: The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art & Science in Psychiatry. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 2010, 253 pp., $50.00, ISBN 978-0-8018-9390-2.

In The Rise and Fall of the Biopsychosocial Model: Reconciling Art & Science in Psychiaty, S. Nassir Ghaemi offers a historical analysis of psychiatry's conventional philosophy, the biopsychosocial (BPS) model. Reporting from his own critique and archival research, Ghaemi suggests there is an alternative to the BPS model, that of medical humanism, based on the work of Olser and Jaspers. This new methods-based psychiatric perspective is driven by the German word verstehen, which implies having a meaningful understanding. As a result, the discussion of this new perspective as well as the "ins and outs" of the BPS model is analyzed within three parts of this book: (1) the rise of the biopsychosocial model, (2) the fall of the biopsychosocial model, and (3) the methods-based approach.

The first part of the book draws the reader's attention to the historical foundation of Adolf Meyer's psychobiology and the eclectic approach of psychotherapy. Three different types of eclecticism are discussed: (1) the mixing of different types of theories (e.g., cognitive-behavioral and existential), (2) the Bintegration of methods, and (3) evidence-based medicine or empirical eclecticism. All three types of approaches seem to have some problems, as Ghaemi explains. The first issue involves determining which theories to choose and how to combine them. As Ghaemi points out "there are over one hundred schools of psychotherapy, for instance, the number of possible combinations is endless. Such eclecticism borders on anarchy (p. 15)." The second approach involves the absence of science. For example, it ignores the theoretical perspective and solely relies on mixing methods or blending interventions. The third approach of empirical eclecticism focuses on the question: how does a psychiatrist setde on a strategy to explain a particular phenomenon with all the different theories to choose from? In contrast, the last part of this section talks about George Engel, the creator of the BPS model as well as aspects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), and the controversy regarding psychopharmacology. …

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