History and Concepts of Psychiatry

This course does not provide CME credit. 8 sessions will be provided.


This course on History and Concepts of Psychiatry will examine conceptual and historical aspects of psychiatric theory and practice. It will review the evolution of beliefs regarding mental illnesses and their treatments, beginning in ancient Greece and moving forward into the 19th and 20th centuries. Focus will be put on central figures or ideas that have persisted to the present day, including the Hippocratic approach to medicine, the work of Emil Kraepelin, Sigmund Freud, Karl Jaspers, and others. The modern evolution of those ideas will be explored in the biopsychosocial model, the rise of DSM-III and later editions of current nosology, and the influence of cultural postmodernism in the perspectives of critics of psychiatry as well as in the psychiatric mainstream.

  1. Beginnings: Ancient Greece to the 19th century
  2. What is mental illness?
  3. Emil Kraepelin and the rise of biological psychiatry, Freud and the Freudians
  4. Karl Jaspers and existential psychiatry
  5. Cultural postmodernism and psychiatry
  6. The rise and fall of the biopsychosocial model
  7. Origins and failures of DSM
  8. Future possibilities


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