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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on philosophical aspects of clinical psychopharmacology, addressing key conceptual and ethical questions in the field. The chapter begins by reviewing some of the history of psychopharmacology, partly with the aim of emphasizing what we know and don’t know about psychiatric medications. It then discusses three clinical cases, each of which raises different ethical issues (e.g., should psychopharmacology be used given its harms, should psychopharmacology be preferred to psychotherapy, and should psychopharmacology be used for minor illnesses?). Finally it provides a conceptual framework for approaching these cases, a framework that attempts to integrate “classical” and “critical” approaches to science, psychiatry, and psychopharmacology. Along the way, the chapter addresses a number of other issues at the intersection of neuroethics and psychopharmacology, including the placebo response.

Keywords: psychopharmacology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, neuroethics, ethical questions, placebo

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