Evolving Paradigms and Their Impact on Mental Health Care

  • James H. Lake


The concept of paradigm is introduced and the influences of paradigms on the theory and practice of medicine and mental health care are described. Models of energy and information in disparate systems of medicine are reviewed, and a critique is offered of current science and Western medicine. Western medicine posits that health and illness phenomena can be adequately characterized in terms of classically described forms of energy. In contrast, non-Western systems of medicine posit that “normal” and “abnormal” states reflect dynamic interrelationships between physiological processes and postulated “subtle” forms of energy. Recently proposed models of biochemical and energetic individuality are discussed and their implications for new understandings of the nature of body–brain are described. Four principle paradigms embedded in disparate systems of medicine are described: the body paradigm; the mind–body paradigm; the body–energy paradigm; and the body–spirit paradigm. The relevance of disparate paradigms to different models of health and healing is discussed. Each of these paradigms describes health and illness phenomena in relationship to the multitiered complexity of body–brain in space-time, a central premise on which integrative medicine is based. Western medicine and psychiatry are evolving paradigms in that they have been historically open to influences of new ideas. Psychiatry includes a variety of perspectives however there is no consensus on a model that adequately explains both normal conscious functioning and mental illness. The competing perspectives of contemporary psychiatry are described together with the limitations of biomedical psychiatry, the dominant contemporary model. The contributions of cognitive psychology and hermeneutics to explanation in psychiatry are described.


Science paradigms Medicine paradigms Energy and information in western medicine Energy and information in non-Western systems of medicine Models of body–brain Competing models in psychiatry Limitations of biomedical psychiatry Cognitive psychology Alternative explanations of mental illness 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James H. Lake
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Integrative MedicineUniversity of Arizona College of MedicineTucsonUSA

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