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Critical psychiatry: a brief overview

  • Hugh Middleton (a1) and Joanna Moncrieff (a2)

Critical psychiatry has often been confused with what is widely known as ‘anti-psychiatry’. In this article the distinction is clarified and the particular contribution critical psychiatry makes is outlined. That contribution is constructive criticism: of the relationship between medicine and mental health practice, of the way drug and psychotherapeutic treatments for mental health difficulties might be better understood. These have implications for everyday clinical practice and there is much to be gained by openly embracing the controversies critical psychiatry highlights.


  • Understand the origins of critical psychiatry and recognise some of the difficulties that arise from identifying psychiatry with medicine
  • Appreciate the differences between disease-centred and drug-centred approaches to prescribing psychiatric medication
  • Become aware of implications that arise from psychotherapeutic outcomes research


H. M. and J. M. are co-chairs of the UK Critical Psychiatry Network.

Corresponding author
Correspondence Professor Hugh Middleton, School of Sociology and Social Policy, Law and Social Sciences Building, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK. Email:
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For a commentary on this article, see pp. 55–56, this issue.

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Critical psychiatry: a brief overview

  • Hugh Middleton (a1) and Joanna Moncrieff (a2)
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