• Vol. 37 No. 7, 601–605
  • 15 July 2008

Neuropsychiatry – An Emerging Field



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Neuropsychiatry is an emerging field at the intersection of neurology and psychiatry, driven by the unprecedented advances in neuroscience. The arbitrary demarcation between neurology and psychiatry, which largely existed only in the last century and a half, has become less tenable. We discuss the definition and scope of this emerging field. We also review the development of clinical neuropsychiatry in Singapore in the context of historical developments and recent changes in the field from other countries. At a more practical level, we discuss a few of the clinical settings in which neuropsychiatry operates, in particular, the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders locally, and the significant number of patients with psychiatric or psychosomatic symptoms presenting to neurology and general practice clinics. The stigma may be ameliorated by better understanding of the neurobiological basis of psychiatry. We see the future of neuropsychiatry in Singapore, as in other developed countries, as one approach to understand and manage complex brain disorders. We advocate training for both psychiatry and neurology residents in their counterpart fields, which will lead to greater understanding of both fields, and enhance collaboration in clinical care and research.

Neuropsychiatry can be described as the interface between neurology and psychiatry – the intersecting field of enquiry for both the brain and the mind. In more practical terms, it often, though not necessarily, narrows down to psychiatric comorbidities of neurologic diseases (e.g. depression in a patient with stroke) and complex brain disorders with significant neurological and psychiatric problems (e.g. Tourette’s disorder, various dementia disorders, auto-immune disorders with central nervous system (CNS) involvement, traumatic brain injury, mental retardation).

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