Historical Dictionary of Neuropsychopharmacology

Dear colleagues,

I have the honor to coordinate Project One of INHN: “Historical Dictionary of Neuropsychopharmacology”.

The main purpose of a dictionary is the orderly presentation of words/concepts related to a particular area of knowledge. Clarity of these concepts is of utmost importance, since it is through these words/ concepts that we construct and interpret our reality.

Preparation of a Historical Dictionary of Neuropsychopharmacology will provide us with an opportunity to examine and clarify the meaning of words/concepts used in neuropsychopharmacology and ascertain that they communicate them clearly.  

While preparing this Introduction I found that several terms, like, psycho, pharmaco, neuro, etc. appear in several different combinations. For example: neuropharmacology, psychopharmacology, neuropsycopharmacology, pharmacopsychology, pharmacopsychopathology, pharmacopsychiatry, behavioral pharmacology, pediatric pharmacology, geriatric pharmacology, pharmacogenetics, etc. The picture looks quite chaotic, but on closer examination, it seems to reflect a constant increase in the number of perspectives or even disciplines involved in studies of the mind via the brain.  

Another initial observation I had was that at a certain point in time, the term “neuropsychopharmacology” replaced “psychopharmacology”. It probably reflects the early expectations from neuroscience to provide the basic underpinning for the clinical aspects of the field. .

While preparing this dictionary, we should keep in mind the words of Lothar Kalinowsky and Hanns Hippius in their book,  “Somatic Treatments in Psychiatry”, written in 1971, forty-two years ago: “The great advances achieved during the last decades in the effective treatment of mental diseases are due to the fact that psychiatrists utilized their clinical observations for their therapeutic experiments”.

In his Foreword of The Dictionary of Modern Medicine, its editor, George Lundberg wrote:  “When I use a word, I may mean it to say exactly what I mean it to mean. Okay. But how will anyone else know what I mean? That is the reason for dictionaries”. In preparing our Dictionary we should keep in mind Lundberg’s words as well.

With so many partially overlapping terms, and with changes in their meaning over time, it will be necessary to define each of them from the time they emerged to the present.  It will be necessary to have an open dictionary in which the last inserted concept of today will not be the oldest tomorrow. It is extremely important to keep the Dictionary open, also to accommodate divergence and confrontation as truth and reality come via confrontation; compromise suppresses authenticity. 

We should try to create a Historical Dictionary that will be passed from generation to generation. I would appreciate any suggestion you may have that could improve our project.  

Please see our first “vignette” posted. You are warmly invited to send me via e-mail (crhojaij(at)biologicalpsychiatry.com.au) comments on this vignette, as well as new vignettes for consideration for posting   on our website for comments from members of INHN.

Let’s craft a great opus together!

Kalinowsky L, Hippius H. Tratamientos Somáticos en Psiquiatria. (Translated from the 2nd edition of the original English by Teixidor, R. Vidal.) Barcelona: Editorial Cientifico-Medica; 1972, p. 1

Lundberg G. Foreword. In: Lundberg G, editor.  The Dictionary of Modern Medicine. Basel: Editiones Roche; 1992.

Carlos  R. Hojaij
December 12, 2013