Truths and Fallacies of Psychopharmacology
What you'll learn
- To examine whether psychiatric medications are symptomatic or disease-modifying
- To apply the historically accurate Hippocratic approach to clinical practice
- To explore the implications of this approach to psychopharmacology in modern clinical practice
- To apply this approach to commonly used medications like antidepressants and amphetamines
- Basic background with psychological concepts and basic familiarity with psychiatric drug classes
This course will describe aspects of the art and science of psychopharmacology, with special emphasis on correcting common misconceptions. It will be explained that medications can be used in one of two ways, either symptomatically or disease modifying. Almost all psychiatric medications are symptomatic, and have no effect on the long term diseases that underlie many psychiatric presentations. This fact will be explored in the context of the general philosophy of clinical medicine derived from Hippocrates, which has nothing to do with the false concept of “First do no harm, but rather is based on the view that symptom-oriented treatment is to be discouraged in favor of disease oriented treatment. Implications of these observations for the use of psychiatric medications in clinical practice will be explored. Specific analyses will be made of antidepressants and amphetamines in particular.
This course also will cover the relevance of DSM diagnoses to clinical practice, assessing problems with their validity and why they may not be correct and helpful in research and practice. Ten specific truths and ten specific fallacies of psychopharmacology will be identifed after the above context is provided.
This course is both a critique of psychopharmacology practice and an introduction to it. It will allow students to learn about psychiatric drugs but to do so critically and not simplistically. It is therefore relevant both to new or younger students and to experienced clinicians alike. All that is needed is an open mind and a desire to learn.
Who this course is for:
- Students and clinicians, ranging from college students in psychology courses to graduate students in psychology, psychiatric nursing, social work, psychiatry, and allied mental health professions.
Nassir Ghaemi MD MPH is Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University and Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of multiple books, most recently Clinical Psychopharmacology (Oxford University Press, 2019), winner of the Association of American Publishers 2020 PROSE award for excellence in the biological and life sciences, and also the bestselling A First-Rate Madness: Exploring the Links between Mental Illness and Leadership (Penguin, 2011). He has published over 300 scientific articles, serves on multiple journal editorial boards, is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and is an overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (UK).