A Psychiatric Diagnosis

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A Psychiatric Diagnosis

On behalf of mlcoa NSW, Dr Howe Synnott presented to the Self Insurers’ Association in Sydney on 7 June 2018 on the topic of ‘A Psychiatric Diagnosis’. Dr Synnott discussed the lack of certainty involved in making a psychiatric diagnosis and the importance of a close examination of each case, rather than a ‘checklist approach’ to psychiatry.

He delved into the limitations of DSM and psychiatry itself, where there are often no simple or clear guidelines and no one simple answer. Even in cases where the diagnosis is clear, there may not be certainty about the best treatment options or predicting the outcome. Dr Synnott stressed that having a psychiatric diagnosis was not indicative of an individuals’ capacity to work.

Dr Synnott boldly suggested that the ‘medicalisation’ of common distress and life’s difficulties was not serving us as individuals or as a community, and that perhaps the answer to an individual’s problems may not be a medical one in many circumstances. He empathised with treating doctors who are often expected to ‘fix the problem’ and make a medical diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Dr Synnott posed some detailed questions to ask an independent doctor to get clear answers which provoke deeper questioning for the doctor themselves when they are assessing a psychologically distressed worker.

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