“Recently I suggested the need for a test of normal functioning in the psychiatric interview. I pointed out that psychiatry was still without a workable test for normality, a condition which separates it sharply from medical practice. We all know what a central place the taking of pulse rates, respiratory rates, the testing of reflexes, and a hundred other readily determined tests of health have in the practice of medicine. In psychiatry, we are still largely without such measures and for this reason, I believe, the findings of a psychiatrist have an ominous ring. These findings seem to occupy the whole person, are not seen as a medical finding are, in the context of the whole human body and situation. For this reasons, psychiatrist use adjective to describe their patients, calling them manic neurotic, schizophrenic, as if they were all this or that. Such a practice is rare in medicine, where the patient is not tuberculosis or cancerous, but has a local lesion of a specific organ.

I predict that as we learn to define human being and to determine the extent to which it is present, then we, like general medial practitioners, will stop talking adjectivally, and begin to see our patients’ condition in perspective. I also predict that this effort will link us up with the problem of freedom and self-respect just mentioned. That is, psychiatrists, having a central interest in the psyche, will have a strong role to play in the development of this peculiarly human aspect of our evolutionary development. Our task will not be to save the human race, but it will be to help define what humans do and undo in specific individual examples, to assist people in their advancement towards freedom, self-respect and respect for others.”

Excerpt from Why The Future Belongs to Psychiatry” Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 45: 14-22 1986

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