The Fusion of Psychiatry and Social Science


NTT Medical Center Tokyo, Dept. of Neuropsychiatry, Tokyo, Japan


“This dichotomy, security-satisfaction, is of profound significance for psychopathology.” “There is a reason for psychiatrists having to deal with many important topics other than patients suffering mental disorders.” Thus wrote Harry Stack Sullivan around 1940 to advocate the fusion of psychiatry and social science.

Currently the human kind seems facing serious crises. Globalization, terrorism and other visible crises will be discussed by other presenters. I will discuss two possibly more fundamental crises. Recession of democracy and artificial intelligence.

More than seven decades after the world war, we are not observing happy development of democracy. Only in limited areas like western Europe, north America, Oceania and far east Asia, we observe good practice. Countries in these areas enjoy economic superiority.  Is economic superiority a pre-requisite of democracy?  Now some of these countries feel threat to their economic superiority. Are people electing less democratic leaders because of this insecurity?

Artificial intelligence. Globalization is often blamed as reason of poverty of laborers. This is human versus human. However, robot, artificial intelligence and their combination will make a more eradicating threat to human beings.  In chess and other complicated games, human beings can not win against artificial intelligence.  Artificial intelligence is already used in employee evaluation, economic analysis and soon for driving. Within a decade, we will observe the dominant use of artificial intelligence / robot.  Then there will be a very large gap between those who control artificial intelligence and those who need to compete with, or worse, are controlled by artificial intelligence.

The idealism of democracy and human dignity may be fundamentally questioned in the near future. What can we do for the current world crises as psychiatrist?