Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/181

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177
PSYCHOLOGICAL MEDICINE

THE ADVANCEMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL MEDICINE
By FREDERIC LYMAN WELLS, Ph.D.
MCLEAN HOSPITAL, WAVERLEY, MASS.

TEACHING and research are the coordinate ways upon which any body of knowledge advances. Though we are apt to think first of the former, the latter is indeed the more basic, since before we can talk of teaching we must acquire something to teach; as, to a large extent, it is still the task of psychological medicine to do. It is neither a difficult nor an especially effective matter to urge in generalities the desirability of medical training in psychology in the hundred trite phrases that are current to every one; the abstractly favorable judgment is now of little meaning except as the basis of constructive ideas. We can best decide the place of psychology in medical education in examining what is the best that psychology has to give it. This question could indeed be dealt with more simply if there were greater unanimity of opinion as to what this best may be; for, as the recent addresses at Washington plainly showed, divergent opinions still reflect the different angles from which the subject is approached. The discourse of the medical man is one of problems, of the psychologist, one of methods; which under present conditions could scarcely be otherwise. The difficulty is that the methods of normal psychology and the problems of pathological psychology do not fit. One could well read this in and between the lines of Franz's remarks,[1] deprecating certain inadequacies in the methods of pathological psychology, as well as the aloofness from practical issues on the psychological side. The doubtful attitude of the psychiatrist towards the psychological Problemstellung is of long standing. "They ask for a psychology. . . . applied toward a solution of their own problems, one which is aimed at practical ends. It has been assumed that psychology as it is being taught and investigated deals with matters of no concern, or of too abstract a nature for practise"; which assumption indeed has some measure of truth.[2] Psychologists may not be scientifically at fault for this failure of application, but the medical justice of demanding it can scarcely be gainsaid, and such expressions are fair warning that in our natural wish to extend the scope and influence of psychological science, we do not lose sight of the fact that if psychology is to be successfully taught to medical students, it must afford them something they can use. The test of concrete experience is one that psychology has never been seriously called upon

  1. Journ. Am. Med. Assoc, March 30, 1912, 909-911.
  2. Cf. Hollingworth, Psych. Bull, May 15, 1912, 204-206.