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Psychiatrist


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor -- with the authority to prescribe medications and make medical decisions -- who deals with mental disorders. (Psychologists do not have a medical degree and, therefore, cannot prescribe drugs.)

Many psychiatrists use psychoanalysis as part of their therapeutic or diagnostic method, and all psychiatrists have intensive training in psychology.

There are four chief branches of psychiatry:

  • Descriptive psychiatry, which is based on the observation of external factors that may be the cause of mental illness
  • Dynamic psychiatry, which is the study of the processes, origins, and mechanisms of emotional states
  • Forensic psychiatry, which deals with the legal aspects of mental illness
  • Orthomolecular psychiatry, which is the study of the molecular bases of mental illnesses

Areas such as psychopharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs on a person's emotional and mental state) and psychophysiology (the study of the physiology of mental illness) are offshoots of orthomolecular psychiatry.

Psychiatrists go through the usual medical sequence: medical school, internship, and residency. The psychiatrist may spend five years or more in specialized training in psychiatry and neurology.

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