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The Psychiatrist as a Developmentalist
All psychiatrists inevitably become students of development. The life histories of their patients demand developmental formulations to achieve a sense of understanding of the origins of the present-ing symptoms and disturbing behaviors that bring the patients to psychiatric treatment. Perhaps one of the most poignant exam-ples is Huntington’s chorea. The gene that causes this disease has been identified, and it is possible to know accurately whether an infant is destined to struggle with the symptoms of this crippling disability many decades in the future. Yet it is the life experi-ences of this individual that shape many of the coping strategies that determine the ultimate outcomes of these future struggles. Anticipating the challenges of later life and understanding the origins of the strengths and weaknesses of each patient are at the core of the therapeutic process, whether it involves influencing the balance of the central neurotransmitters or identifying and supporting available community resources.
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