One Hundred Years of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins: A Story of Meyer to McHugh

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Abstract

This article describes a history of clinical methods and constructs that guide Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Phipps Clinic today. The contributions of Adolf Meyer and Paul McHugh are central and closely connected. Both emphasize the clinical examination as the central practice of psychiatry as a specialty within medicine. Meyer's comprehensive examination of the patient became the centerpiece of his approach and was the standard for psychiatrists in the English-speaking world. McHugh, with Phillip Slavney, developed a pluralistic and practical framework for interpreting that history and examination. Both argued against the uncritical use of the modern disease construct. McHugh argues that the disease construct, although fundamental, is but one of four useful “perspectives of psychiatry” and is, thus, an insufficient basis for psychiatric practice. The perspectives could be used as an organizing framework by all physicians who seek a practical and truly personalized approach to the care of patients.

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