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The Thirteenth StepAddiction in the Age of Brain Science$
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Markus Heilig

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172363

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172363.001.0001

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Man or Machine?

Man or Machine?

(p.41) 5 Man or Machine?
The Thirteenth Step

Markus Heilig

Columbia University Press

This chapter addresses the following question: Should what happens in the patient's mind be viewed as yet another set of physiological processes, possible to register from the outside in an objective manner and to predictably manipulate with interventions such as drugs, similar to what we expect of blood pressure or serum glucose? Or are these inner processes inherently different from physiology, requiring that we view them as uniquely subjective, volitional processes of the mind? In other words, is the patient an agent expressing a unique free will or an object that follows deterministic laws of nature? It is argued that psychiatrists must develop the ability to tune in to the uniquely subjective feelings of patients. Without this skill, they may be unable to connect with a patient suffering the intense sadness of a major depression, the irrational fears of an anxiety disorder, or the seemingly irresistible urges of addiction. Before patients will trust a doctor with what torments them, they want to know that the doctor has a sense of what they are experiencing and cares about it.

Keywords:   psychiatrists, clinicians, patients, free will

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