Psychiatric Annals

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The Rationale for Combining Medication and Psychotherapy

Glen O. Gabbard, MD

Abstract

We practice in an era where medication and psychotherapy are used in combination for the treatment of most psychiatric disorders. These treatments are sometimes administered by the same psychiatrist but also may be divided between a psychiatrist and another mental health professional. The conceptual basis for providing both treatments is complex. One approach to dealing with this complexity is a simple dichotomizing of psychotherapy as a treatment for the “psychological” elements of a disorder and medication as a treatment for the “biological” aspects of the disorder. This rationale effectively resurrects an outmoded Cartesian dualism that splits the patient into a mind and a brain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Gabbard is Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and professor of psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Address reprint requests to: Glen O. Gabbard, MD, 6655 Travis, Suite 500, Houston, Texas 77030; or e-mail ggabbard@bcm.edu.

Dr. Gabbard has no industry relationships to disclose.

Abstract

We practice in an era where medication and psychotherapy are used in combination for the treatment of most psychiatric disorders. These treatments are sometimes administered by the same psychiatrist but also may be divided between a psychiatrist and another mental health professional. The conceptual basis for providing both treatments is complex. One approach to dealing with this complexity is a simple dichotomizing of psychotherapy as a treatment for the “psychological” elements of a disorder and medication as a treatment for the “biological” aspects of the disorder. This rationale effectively resurrects an outmoded Cartesian dualism that splits the patient into a mind and a brain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Gabbard is Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and professor of psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Address reprint requests to: Glen O. Gabbard, MD, 6655 Travis, Suite 500, Houston, Texas 77030; or e-mail ggabbard@bcm.edu.

Dr. Gabbard has no industry relationships to disclose.

We practice in an era where medication and psychotherapy are used in combination for the treatment of most psychiatric disorders. These treatments are sometimes administered by the same psychiatrist but also may be divided between a psychiatrist and another mental health professional. The conceptual basis for providing both treatments is complex. One approach to dealing with this complexity is a simple dichotomizing of psychotherapy as a treatment for the “psychological” elements of a disorder and medication as a treatment for the “biological” aspects of the disorder. This rationale effectively resurrects an outmoded Cartesian dualism that splits the patient into a mind and a brain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Gabbard is Brown Foundation Chair of Psychoanalysis and professor of psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Address reprint requests to: Glen O. Gabbard, MD, 6655 Travis, Suite 500, Houston, Texas 77030; or e-mail ggabbard@bcm.edu.

Dr. Gabbard has no industry relationships to disclose.

10.3928/00485713-20060501-04

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