Psychiatry is a branch of medicine, and medicine has its roots in scientific empiricism. Scientific modernism, a product of the Enlightenment, has come under considerable fire from critics, often labelled as postmodern (Muir Gray, 1999; Bracken & Thomas, 2001; Laugharne, 2002). These criticisms include a portrayal of science as a ‘grand narrative’ that reduces reality to a material, measurable world, which follows rational rules, and excludes the non-measurable and non-material. The idea of the objective observer is questioned, because all observers have some interest in what is being observed. Also, multiple views of reality are seen as necessary to understand different perspectives, and the idea that scientific knowledge should ‘trump’ other forms of experience is criticised. This has been described by Bracken in the following way.
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