Psychiatry Essay Prize

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland is delighted to announce its annual Essay Competition which is now open to submissions from current Medical Students as well as, for the first time, those in their Intern Year. Please see below for entry guidelines:


Unwilling or Unable?  A Discussion on Consent and Human Rights in Psychiatric Care”

Word Limit: 1,000 words

Deadline for entries:  5.00 p.m. on Friday, 20th January 2017

Runners Up Prizes:  Free entry to the NCHD Conference (17th February 2017) and the Spring Conference (6th and 7th April 2017)

First Prize:  All of the above, €200 and a commemorative medal

  • Eligible students are invited to submit by email an original, unpublished essay of up to 1,000 words on the above title.
  • Essays should be fully referenced and should be the candidate’s own work.
  • Essay will be marked out of 100 points, as follows: Knowledge (50), Presentation and Communication Skills (20) and Originality (30).
  • Entries will be judged by a panel appointed by the Trainee Committee of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland.
  • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding that decision.

Essays should be sent for the attention of Karen McCourt in the Postgraduate Training Department at by the above stated deadline.  The shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend the NCHD Conference on 17th February 2017 in The Hilton Hotel, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, where the winner will be announced.

Click here for more information.

1The term ‘hyperactivity’ is used here instead of ADHD, partly because it is more historically relevant, but also for simplicity's sake. Although the disorder has been described using many terms during the past half century (for example, hyperkinetic impulse disorder, hyperkinetic reaction, minimal brain dysfunction and attention-deficit disorder in the period 1957–80), hyperactivity has and continues to be the most widely accepted term. Pastor and Reuben 2000, p. 3.

2Ingersoll 1998, pp. 1–22; Wender 2000, pp. 34–55.

3In the often-cited observations of Sir George Still in 1902, for example, hyperactive behaviour in children is mentioned briefly, only to be eclipsed by Still's concerns about disturbing instances of violent behaviour and self-harm in children. Other episodes cited as part of the history of hyperactivity, for example the descriptions of post-encephalitic disorder during the 1920s and minimal brain damage during the 1940s and 1950s, differ from those after 1957 partly because of the stress on different symptoms, but also because such disorders could be linked to a specific cause, namely brain trauma following infection or injury. Nevertheless, as Adam Rafalovich has noted, what these episodes do highlight is the emerging association of childhood behaviour problems and neurological dysfunction. Still 1902; Ebaugh 1923; Strauss and Werner 1942; Rafalovich 2001, p. 107.

4Laufer and Denhoff 1957; Laufer et al. 1957.

5Many of the critiques of hyperactivity have been written by health care professionals. For example, Breggin 1998; Diller 1998; DeGrandpre 1999.

6Schrag and Divoky 1981, p. 38. Conrad 1976, p. 13.

7Brancaccio 2000, pp. 171–6.

8Bradley 1937.

9Lakoff 2000; Rafalovich 2001, 2004; Singh 2002, 2003, 2004; Mayes and Rafalovich 2007.

10Lakoff 2000, pp. 149–53; Singh 2002, pp. 584–8; Rafalovich 2004, pp. 21–34; Mayes and Rafalovich 2007.

11These terms, although not representative of all psychiatrists researching hyperactivity, do reflect the most common classifications found in contemporary psychiatric literature. Historians of psychiatry who have examined this period have also used these terms to describe such divisions in psychiatry. For example, Grob 1991, pp. 403–4.

12This most recent evolution in the history of psychiatry has also been explored by historians such as Mark Micale and Edward Shorter. While Shorter's emphasis on how psychoanalysis declined into a ‘dinosaur ideolog[y]’ in the wake of biological psychiatry's ‘smashing success’ contains a strong element of possibly short-sighted progressivism, Micale's more nuanced exploration of the ‘mind–body paradigm’ acknowledges instead how psychiatric understanding is subject to ‘powerful social, cultural, and professional determinants’. Shorter 1997, pp. vii, 305–13; Micale in Cooter and Pickstone (eds) 2000, pp. 336–45.

13Among the more recent chips in the armour of biological psychiatry have been ongoing concerns about not only the safety of anti-depressant drugs, but the efficacy of such medication. For example, Kirsch et al. 2008.

14Kennedy 1963/1964, pp. 734–5.

15Kennedy 1963/1964, pp. 730–2.

16Bernstein 1991, p. 243.

17Solnit 1966, pp. 7–8.

18Conley et al. 1967/1968, p. 761; Stickney 1967/1968, pp. 1407–9; APA 1968/1969, 1197–1203.

19Ewalt 1959/1960, p. 980; Branch 1963/1964, p. 10; Blain 1965/1966, p. 4; Brosin 1968/1969, p. 7; Waggoner Sr. 1970/1971, p. 1.

20Grootenboer 1962/1963, p. 471; Malone 1963, pp. 22–3; Gardner 1971/1972, p. 446.

21Chess et al. 1963/1964, p. 147.

22Chess et al. 1967, p. 330; Berlin in Berlin and Szurek (eds) 1965, p. 66.

23Brosin 1967/1968, p. 7; Spiegel 1968/1969.

24Solnit 1966, p. 8.

25Duhl 1966/1967, pp. 710–11.

26APA 1968/1969, pp. 1197–203.

27Lourie 1965/1966, p. 1280.

28APA 1968/1969.

29Noshpitz 1974, p. 390.

30Bazelon 1974, p. 199.

31It might be argued that Eisenberg is an atypical biological psychiatrist, especially when his later career is considered. He served, for instance, as chair of Harvard Medical School's Department of Social Medicine and Health Policy and worked towards founding other such departments. Moreover, in his foreword to a recent volume on the history of paediatrics, he decried the fact that medical students only know socially active physicians such as Rudolf Virchow and Abraham Jacobi for their medical contributions and not their ideas about the social causes of illness. Nevertheless, Eisenberg's pioneering work on stimulant drugs and hyperactivity indicates that while he might not be representative of biological psychiatry, he certainly contributed to the neurological theory of hyperactivity. Eisenberg in Stern and Markel (eds) 2002, pp. xiii–xvi.

32Schrag and Divoky 1981, p. 103.

33Goldstein and Eisenberg 1964/1965, pp. 655–6.

34Eisenberg 1966, p. 23.

35Kennedy 1963/1964, p. 730.

36Eisenberg quoted in Schrager et al. 1966, p. 530.

37Philips et al. 1971/1972, p. 684.

38Berlin in Berlin and Szurek (eds) 1965, pp. 65–6.

39Pavenstedt 1962, pp. 7–8, 1971, pp. 101–5.

40Malone 1963, pp. 22–3.

41Kennedy 1963/1964, p. 737.

42Cunningham 1964, pp. 9–12; Berlin in Berlin and Szurek (eds) 1965, p. 64; Hersch 1971, p. 411.

43Solnit 1966, p. 4.

44Hersch 1971, p. 411.

45Anonymous 1969, p. 356.

46Cole et al. 1961/1962, p. 1004.

47Solnit 1966, p. 7.

48Solnit 1966, p. 2.

49Markey 1963, p. 375; Eisendrath 1966/1967, p. 708; Nuffield 1968, pp. 217–21; Philips et al. 1971/1972, pp. 680–4.

50Bartemeir 1959/1960, p. 978.

51Brosin 1967/1968, p. 7.

52Brosin 1968/1969, p. 5.

53Gardner in Brosin 1968/1969, p. 5.

54Hersch 1971, pp. 413–16.

55Stewart 1960/1961, p. 85.

56Rexford 1963, p. 6.

57Jenkins 1968/1969, pp. 1032–3.

58Lofgren 1959/1960, pp. 83–4.

59Council of the American Psychiatric Academy 1963/1964, unnumbered addendum between pp. 728 and 729.

60Anonymous in Davidson 1963/1964, p. 192.

61Kernberg 1969, p. 537.

62Eisenberg et al. 1959/1960, p. 1092; Berman 1964, p. 24; Kal 1968/1969, p. 1128; Rapoport et al. 1971, p. 531.

63Rexford 1962, p. 381.

64Eisenberg 1966, p. 23.

65Weinreb and Counts 1960, pp. 549–50.

66Thomas et al. 1959/1960, p. 798.

67Rexford 1963, pp. 6, 9–17; Reiser 1963, pp. 53, 67; Heinicke and Strassman 1975, p. 569.

68Rexford 1963, pp. 6–9; Schrager et al. 1966, p. 529; Leventhal 1968.

69Rogers 1960/1961, p. 549. Some biological psychiatrists also stressed that pharmacotherapy was merely a means to the end of improved counselling sessions. Smith 1964/1965, p. 703.

70Cole et al. 1961/1962, p. 1004; Sargant 1964/1965, p. xxviii; Eisenberg 1966, p. 19; Rapoport et al. 1971, p. 524.

71Levy 1971, p. 1865.

72Kahn 1960/1961, p. 755; Marmor 1968/1969, p. 679.

73American psychiatry's struggle for legitimacy has been well documented by Gerald Grob. Grob 1991, pp. 51, 279.

74Eisenberg 1966, p. 20.

75Langdell 1967, p. 166.

76Millichap 1968, p. 1528.

77By the early 1960s, in fact, some psychiatrists were complaining about the extent to which pharmaceutical companies ‘bombarded’ psychiatrists with advertising. Cammer 1961/1962, p. 448.

78One such advertisement from JAMA featured a gaunt, exhausted PhD student whose thesis is described as being ‘in progress’. The solution to the stress he feels, with which any PhD student would identify, was a prescription for valium. The message in this advertisement that the stress of intensive study can be alleviated with valium was directed both at physicians, who might recall such stress from their student days, and PhD and MD students who might have cause to read JAMA for their research. Higher learning, as this advertisement suggested, was a pathological activity. AMA 209 (1969), pp. 609–10.

79Tec 1970/1971, p. 1424.

80Schnackenberg 1973; Silver 1976, p. 253; Werry 1977, p. 452.

81Laufer in Anonymous 1970, p. 2261; Lucas and Weiss 1971; Garfinkel et al. 1975, p. 723; Firestone et al. 1978, p. 446. One reason for ritalin's popularity was that its side-effects, though serious, paled in comparison to that of amphetamines, anti-depressants and tranquilisers. Zrull et al. 1964/1965. This notwithstanding, some psychiatrists also suggested that ritalin's growth inhibitory effect was so serious that the prescription of growth hormones to hyperactive children taking the drug was warranted. Puig-Antich et al. 1978, p. 457.

82In 1971, for example, ritalin made $13 million for CIBA, amounting to 15 per cent of its profits. Conrad 1976, p. 15.

83Cole 1971, p. 225.

84Although not mentioned explicitly, Wender might have also been annoyed that Anderson stressed the genetic aetiology of hyperactivity, but used the term minimal brain ‘damage’, a term that implied brain injury as the primary cause of the condition. Anderson 1972; Wender 1973.

85Cantwell et al. 1979, p. 452; Spitzer and Cantwell 1979, p. 363.

86Rutter and Shafer 1979, p. 372.

87Werry 1982, p. 3.

88Healy 2003; Rose 2007.

89Felix 1964/1965.

90Call 1976, p. 156.

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