Psychiatry’s Solid Center


The British psychiatrist W. Alwyn Lishman—widely viewed as the dean of “organic psychiatry”—is quoted as saying this of psychiatry:

“You have got to have a finger in every pie in psychiatry and be ready to turn your hand to whatever is the most important avenue: an EEG one day, a bit of talking about a dream another day. You just follow your nose. All psychiatrists should be all types of psychiatrist”[12].

Indeed, those who practice in this spirit of pragmatic pluralism–always aiming to reduce the suffering and enhance the well-being of the patient–are the “solid center” of psychiatry.



2. Luhrmann T: Of Two Minds: An Anthroplogist Looks at American Psychiatry. New York, Vintage, 2001.

3. Kendell RE: The myth of mental illness. Chapter 1 in: Szasz Under Fire, edited by J.A. Schaler, Open Court 2004, pp. 29-48

4. Jaspers K. General Psychopathology, vol 1. Translated by J. Hoenig and MW Hamilton. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 1997.

5. Wiggins OP, Schwartz MA: Karl Jaspers. In: Embree L, Behnke EA, Carr D et al (editors). Encyclopedia of Phenomenology, Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1997.

6. Ghaemi SN: On the Nature of Mental Disease. The Psychiatric Humanism of Karl Jaspers. Existenz Volume 3, No 2, Fall 2008

7. Edwards SP: The Amygdala: The Body’s Alarm Circuit.


9. Kandel ER: Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and the New Biology of Mind. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Publishing, 2005

10. Gabbard GO: A neurobiologically informed perspective on psychotherapy. Br J Psychiatry 2000; 177: 117-122

11. Metzl JM, Riba M: Understanding the symbolic value of medications: a brief review. Primary Psychiatry. 2003;10:45-48

12. Poole NA Interview with Professor William Alwyn Lishman. Psychiatrist 2013; 37: 343-44
For further reading:
Pies R: Can psychiatry and neurology ‘simply’ merge? [letter] BJPsych Bulletin 1 October 2015
Pies R: Clinical Manual of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Treatment: A Biopsychosocial Approach. Washington DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1994.

Galaxy image available from Shutterstock

Psychiatry’s Solid Center

This article originally appeared in:

Psychiatric Times

It is reprinted here with permission.

Ronald Pies, MD

Dr. Pies is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics and Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine; and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychiatric Times (2007-2010).


APA Reference
Pies, R. (2015). Psychiatry’s Solid Center. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Nov 2015
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