Philosophy of Psychiatry

University of Pittsburgh Offers Course in Spring 2016
on Philosophy of Psychiatry

The University of Pittsburgh will offer a course on the Philosophy of Psychiatry in the Spring 2016 term.  Course Co-Instructor Kenneth F. Schaffner, MD, PhD said members of the Department of Psychiatry faculty including Drs. David Lewis, MD, Michael Pogue-Geile, PhD and Alin Severance, MD will be among the featured lecturers for the course.


The course provides students with the opportunity to examine some of the conceptual and methodological issues as well as several historical topics in psychiatry. Instructors will also assess the ways in which psychiatry analyzes and proposes criteria for the definitions of psychiatric disorders and classifications, and discuss their reliability and validity.  These issues will be considered in general and as they relate to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) and the emerging DSM-5.1 project for updating this manual. Faculty will also examine the organizing principles for psychiatric classification, existing assessment instruments, and the roles of etiological and non-etiological characterizations of disorders, including the schizophrenia model developed by Dr. Lewis. In addition, instructors will review the usefulness of reductive strategies and the mechanisms of disorders (including related genetic, neurocircuits, and neuroimaging research), and treatment of psychiatric disorders including drug and talk therapies. A unique aspect of the Philosophy of Psychiatry course is discussion of historical topics such as the contrast between psychoanalytical, narrative approaches (including the Freud and Jung traditions) and biological psychiatry, and the transition of the discipline from the former to the latter. 

The Philosophy of Psychiatry course, cross-listed as Course #HPS 2650 and PHIL 2652, will take place on Wednesdays from 2:00pm-4:30pm in Room G28 of the Cathedral of Learning.  

For more information regarding this course, please contact Co-Course Instructors Dr. Peter Machamer ( or Dr. Kenneth Shaffner (