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Shrinks to Use New Term for ‘Psychiatry’

Posted October. 13, 2008 07:58,   


In the wake of a series of high-profile celebrity suicides, the Korean Neuropsychiatric Association will reportedly use another name for the mental health field to clear the social stigma against seeking mental treatment.

In Korea, the term “psychiatry” is subject to heavy societal stigma. The association announced yesterday that it will hold a public hearing to use a better sounding term.

The association said that contrary to its intent, the term “psychiatry” deters Koreans from seeking mental treatment. In a vote, 88.6 percent of the association’s members decided to change the name.

New names on the shortlist include “brain psychology”; “mental and physical science”; “stress science”; “neuro-stress science”; “neuropsychology”; “neuropsychiatry”; “mental health;” “mental stress”; and “psychiatric medicine.”

The association’s bulletin board has a number of opinions posted. Many favor removing the word “mental” to avoid societal stigma. Others want the inclusion of the prefix “neuro” for its connotation of “brain science.”

Still more support the insertion of words such as “stress” and “mental and physical” since mental disorders lead to negative physical effects such as indigestion, headaches and fatigue.

Association spokesman Lee Dong-woo said, “Our members are engaged in a wide variety of specialties and have different interests in the name-changing issue. It’s really tough to find a comprehensive shiny term to please them all. We will survey the preferences of members before deciding on a name.”

Psychiatry in Korea was called neuropsychiatry until 1982, when the Korean Neurological Association broke away from the neuropsychiatric association. Since then, it has been called psychiatry.

Thus doctors who obtained licenses prior to 1982 still call themselves “neuro-psychiatrists.”