Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. These include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities. The term was first coined by the German physician Johann Christian Reil in 1808, and literally means medical A medical doctor specializing in psychiatry is a psychiatrist.
Psychiatric assessment typically starts with a mental status examination and the compilation of a case history. Psychological tests and physical examinations may be conducted, including on occasion the use of neuroimaging or other neurophysiological techniques. Mental disorders are diagnosed in accordance with criteria listed in diagnostic manuals such as the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), edited and used by the World Health Organization. The fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) is scheduled to be published in 2013, and its development is expected to be of significant interest to many medical fields. The combined treatment of psychoactive medication and psychotherapy has become the most common mode of psychiatric treatment in current practice, but current practice also includes widely ranging variety of other modalities. Treatment may be delivered on an inpatient or outpatient basis, depending on the severity of functional impairment or on other aspects of the disorder in question. Research and treatment within psychiatry as a whole are conducted on an interdisciplinary basis, sourcing an array of sub-specialties and theoretical approaches.
Controversy has often surrounded psychiatry, and the term anti-psychiatry was coined by psychiatrist David Cooper in 1967. The anti-psychiatry message is that psychiatric treatments are ultimately more damaging than helpful to patients, and psychiatry's history involves what may now be seen as dangerous treatments. Electroconvulsive therapy was one of these, which was used widely between the 1930s and 1960s. Lobotomy was another practice that was ultimately seen as too invasive and brutal. Valium and other sedatives were over-prescribed, which led to an epidemic of dependence. There was also concern about the significant increase in prescribing psychiatric drugs for children. Two charismatic psychiatrists came to personify the movement against psychiatry. The most influential of these was R.D. Laing who wrote a series of best-selling books, including The Divided Self. Thomas Szasz rose to fame with his book The Myth of Mental Illness. Some ex-patient groups have become militantly anti-psychiatric, often referring to themselves as "survivors