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Rickman, J. (1957). XVIII. The Development of Psychological Medicine (1950). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):144-164.

(1957). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):144-164

XVIII. The Development of Psychological Medicine (1950) Book Information Previous Up Next

John Rickman, M.D.

The half-century which this series of essays is designed to cover also spans the history of modern psychological medicine, which is also the history of a new skill. Every advance in medical science can be related to the development of skills—in clinical observation, in the design and use of apparatus of research, in the interpretation of data obtained by the use of the apparatus, and above all in conceptualizing the problem that is being faced. To this general rule the development of psychological medicine is no exception; but since the data differ so greatly from those of the physiologist and pathologist the means by which the facts are collected also are different. Both kinds of research are concerned with answers to the fundamental question, ‘What goes with what?’ If the data of the pathologist cannot be immediately linked with the data of the psycho-pathologist and psychiatrist, and vice versa, it simply means that ‘total medicine’ has not yet found a theory which combines the two.

This article does not touch on the development of psychiatry but tries only to outline some of the changes in thought and practice that have resulted from the study of the psychological problems which patients present to doctors for solution. To summarize in a short article the changes in the last fifty years would exhaust the general reader and weary the specialist, but a description of how it all arose from simple if subtle consulting-room work (without appliances of any kind whatever) and how the range of case-taking has been extended in penetration and in helpfulness to the patient may deserve a place in a story for doctors of doctors' work in this half-century of ferment and growth.

Doctors

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