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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter evaluates the multiple roles of technology in psychiatry, drawing on philosophical resources and mindful of psychiatry's need to benefit from technology without reducing itself to nothing but a technology. It approaches the topic of technology and psychiatry from three perspectives. First, it addresses technology as a way of thinking-technical or instrumental reason-and how technical reason informs psychiatric theory and practice. For this analysis it invokes a philosophical tradition that stretches from Aristotle to Toulmin and Gadamer. Second, it takes up technology as achievement, the most obvious example of which is psychotropic medications. For this dimension of technology in psychiatry it recruits philosopher Albert Borgmann, who has analyzed the tendency of technological products, analyzed as device paradigms, to transmute into commodities. Finally, the chapter takes up technology as instrument of investigation. Philosopher Don Ihde is the guide in this investigation into how the psychiatrically real can become what is revealed through the technological instrument. The final section addresses the overarching question of how to set the right balance between the technological and the non-technological in psychiatry-how psychiatry can make use of technology without losing its humanistic core. It notes that the binary of the technological and non-technology in psychiatry can be mapped onto other binaries: biology and psychology, mind and brain, medication and psychotherapy, diagnosis and patient, theory and instance, general and individual, technical and practical reason. These binaries are not precisely isomorphic with each other, but all contribute to evaluating the role of technology in psychiatry, both in the present and in the desired future.

Keywords: technology, psychiatry, technological, humanistic, mind, brain, practical reason, instrumental reason, biological psychiatry, device paradigm

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