Anonymous said: Given your extensive background and awesome interests, do you think you could explain to me the difference between molecular psychiatry and psychopharmacology?
ABSOLUTELY! Lets start with the basics and move to the philosophy.
I’ll do my best to keep it simple. Google any terms that don’t make sense :)
Molecular psychiatry is the field which attempts to understand psychiatric illness from a biochemical stand-point, where in particular interactions between neurons and chemicals are considered to be the root of abnormal psychology. This field is about observing how the psychologically ill brain functions without the influence of external drugs, and then concludes with methods that could be used to treat it
Psychopharmacology on the other hand is more based on how drugs interact with the brain, not how the brain would function for those with mental illness. In this field, we determine how the drugs effect the brain and then apply potential uses for this drug or perform structural activity relationship experiments to optimise the drug for particular neural interactions. Psychopharmacology doesn’t concern itself with the cause of mental illness, simply the methods by which it can be treated by chemicals and their effectiveness.
Psychiatry as a whole is philosophically leaning towards mind-body dualism where-in to treat mental illness, it would be best to treat both the mind and body as two separate things which interact with each other. By fixing the biochemical interactions of the body and conditioning the mind through cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling, psychiatry treats the mental illness from two angles.
Psychopharmacology is very much a physicalist field in which the mind is thought of to be a product of the neurons of the brain. By altering the activity of the neurons, it is possible to alter the perception of the mind. Take SSRIs for example, when administered over a period of time to a person with a depressive disorder, they will sometimes have an improvement of mood which is not associated with any cbt or changes to life style or events. This is because the drug is forcing the serotonin in the brain to remain in the gaps between the serotonin receptors and therefore continues to act as a neurotransmitter increasing mood as a result.
I hope that helps.
Molecular psychiatry: how the mentally ill brain works.
Psychopharmacology: how drugs interact with the brain.