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Description: You have undoubtedly had some thoughts about and perhaps even some classroom discussion around the question of whether drugs are therapy (talking) are the best choice for treating mental illness. In a way that’s reminiscent of the classical debate about whether it makes more sense to focus on people’s brains or on their minds the author of the article linked below asks us not to jump too quickly to thinking of this as an either/or proposition. Think for a moment about your own perspective on the drugs versus talking question and then have a look at the article linked below.

Source: The “drugs versus talking” debate doesn’t help us understand mental health, Simon Wesley, Mental Health, The Guardian.

Date: March 29, 2016

Drugs Versus Therapy

Photo Credit: Zohar Lazar

Links: Article Link —

There are many dichotomies in and around psychology. These include brain and mind, psychiatrist and psychologist, and, in relation to treatment, drugs and talking therapy. The author of the article linked above is a psychiatrist and in the article he is pointing out that this sort of dichotomous thinking supports an overly simplistic view of the nature of mental health, mental illness and treatment. He points out that in virtually all areas of mental health and mental illness it makes more sense to look at the complex interplay of the brain and the mind and of the physical and the social and interpersonal not only for understanding the nature of mental illness but also for the design of effective identification and treatment strategies. It is worth reflecting somewhat on the number of overly simplistic dichotomies that are regularly tossed around and within psychology, psychiatry, and related disciplines. If we are to continue moving forward towards her understanding of, coping with, and treating mental illness we need to make sure that we don’t stop with overly simplistic statements about the origins and treatments of these disorders.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are the dichotomies that the article author points out and how are they related to one another?
  2. Besides treatment types what other sorts of issues seem to be supporting the dichotomies referred to in the linked article?
  3. How should psychology and psychiatry be talking about how society in general should think about and act towards mental health and mental illness?

References (Read Further):

DeRubeis, R. J., Siegle, G. J., & Hollon, S. D. (2008). Cognitive therapy versus medication for depression: treatment outcomes and neural mechanisms. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(10), 788-796.

Wampold, B. E., & Imel, Z. E. (2015). The great psychotherapy debate: The evidence for what makes psychotherapy work. Routledge.