Blog | Thursday, May 10, 2012

Suffering and its expression in psychiatric and medical disease


Stephen Ginn, MD, a psychiatrist for BMJ, recently tweeted an interesting article about explanations and suffering written by Jon Jureidini that was published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The author provides an interesting review of how the medical-psychiatric community labels the manifestations of suffering as psychiatric diagnosis and how these labels do nothing but describe the manifestations and ignore the underlying issue(s) at hand with "unexplanations."

Any internist will be able rapidly identify with the portrait of the state of medical/psychiatric diagnosis and its treatment which leaves many patients with labels but no understanding of their suffering.

An analogy to medicine would be labeling someone with anemia without any thought or workup of why someone had anemia. The anemia is a symptom of a complex pathway of hematopoesis. Patients suffering from anxiety or depression are more than just those labels. There are complex biochemical, personal, familial, and cultural factors that are at play.

The article is a good, fun read.

Justin Penn, MD, ACP Associate Member, attended medical school at the University of Washington School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine at the University of Rochester, where he is serving as Chief Resident. This post originally appeared at his blog, Musings of an Internist.