Towards a new psychiatry

The field of medicine as a whole has progressed substantially in recent years owing to advances in technology as well as improved diagnostic techniques and therapies. In particular, progress in neuroimaging and other neurophysiological techniques, developments in behavioural sciences and psychotherapies, and developments in psychiatric genetics have substantially expanded our knowledge of mental illnesses. As a result, the profession and practice of psychiatry is evolving, and so there is a need to review how current practices should be revised, updated and monitored. This is reflected by the imminent release of the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association, which is expected to improve the clinical utility of the manual and also ensure more consistency in how psychiatric disorders are classified and diagnosed.

However, other factors also affect the scope and conduct of the psychiatric field. Socio-cultural and economic forces have an influence, as the structure of societies are changing worldwide. The profession of psychiatry is becoming increasingly globalized and continuously confronts new challenges, as international ethnic, religious and political beliefs and behaviours are becoming more prominant.

In the cross-journal thematic series Towards a new psychiatry: Philosophical and ethical issues in classification, diagnosis and care’, edited by Prof James Giordano (Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine), the issues arising from these socio-cultural changes and scientific advances are explored. The main themes and aims of the thematic series, as well as key papers that the series has been launched with,
are discussed in the editorial, and Prof Giordano also comments on the impact of the changes in psychiatry in his blog. The thematic issue runs until December 2012, and submissions addressing these themes are invited to the following journals for inclusion: BMC Medicine; BMC Medical Ethics; BMC Psychiatry; BMC Neuroscience ; BMC Neurology ; Genome Medicine and Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine.

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