Static versus dynamic

Psychiatrists adopting the static concept were likely to be objective detached observers who were principally concerned with diagnostic classification, and who emphasized nature rather than nurture. Psychiatrists adopting the dynamic concept were less interested in exact description and diagnosis, more interested in empathizing with the patient's emotional inner life, and emphasized nurture rather than nature.

Both attitudes are limiting when carried to extremes. It is possible for a psychiatrist to be so objectively scientific that he only perceives his patient as an example of one or other mental abnormality, and fails to understand him as a person. It is equally possible for a psychiatrist so to empathize with his patient that he cannot perceive the latter diagnostically or critically, and is likely to see progress and improvement where none exists. The nature versus nurture controversy has also been evident in the dispute about the inheritance of IQ and educability. It is clear that temperamental prejudice influences which stance a psychiatrist or a psychologist chooses to adopt.

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