The Psychiatry Portal

Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behaviour, cognition, and perceptions. See glossary of psychiatry.

Initial psychiatric assessment of a person typically begins with a case history and mental status examination. Physical examinations and psychological tests may be conducted. On occasion, neuroimaging or other neurophysiological techniques are used. Mental disorders are often diagnosed in accordance with clinical concepts listed in diagnostic manuals such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), edited and used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) was published in May 2013 which re-organized the larger categories of various diseases and expanded upon the previous edition to include information/insights that are consistent with current research.

Combined treatment with psychiatric medication and psychotherapy has become the most common mode of psychiatric treatment in current practice, but contemporary practice also includes a wide variety of other modalities, e.g., assertive community treatment, community reinforcement, and supported employment. Treatment may be delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the severity of functional impairment or on other aspects of the disorder in question. An inpatient may be treated in a psychiatric hospital. Research within psychiatry as a whole is conducted on an interdisciplinary basis with other professionals, such as epidemiologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, or clinical psychologists. (Full article...)

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Those with AS often display intense interests, such as this boy's fascination with molecular structure.
Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger disorder (AD) or simply Asperger's, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical (peculiar, odd) use of language are frequently reported. The diagnosis of Asperger's was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.

The syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, studied and described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication skills, demonstrated limited empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy. The modern conception of Asperger syndrome came into existence in 1981 and went through a period of popularization, becoming standardized as a diagnosis in the early 1990s. Many questions and controversies remain about aspects of the disorder. There is doubt about whether it is distinct from high-functioning autism (HFA); partly because of this, its prevalence is not firmly established. (Full article...)

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Australian soldiers near Ypres in 1917, during World War I. Soldier on left is likely suffering from shellshock, now described as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
image credit: public domain


Selected biography

Alfred W. Adler (February 7, 1870 – May 28, 1937) was an Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology. His emphasis on the importance of feelings of inferiority—the inferiority complex—is recognized as isolating an element which plays a key role in personality development. Alfred Adler considered human beings as an individual whole, therefore he called his psychology "Individual Psychology" (Orgler 1976). Adler was the first to emphasize the importance of the social element in the re-adjustment process of the individual and who carried psychiatry into the community.

In collaboration with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud's colleagues, Adler was among the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement and a core member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society: indeed, to Freud he was "the only personality there". He was the first major figure to break away from psychoanalysis to form an independent school of psychotherapy and personality theory, which he called individual psychology because he believed a human to be an indivisible whole, an individuum. He also imagined a person to be connected or associated with the surrounding world. (Full article...)

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