The negative image of psychiatry is not only due to unfavourable communication with the media, but is basically a problem of self-conceptualization. It results both from unjustified prejudices of the general public, mass media and health care professionals and of own unfavourable coping with external and internal concerns.
Issues related to negative stereotypes of psychiatry include overestimation of coercion, associative stigma, lack of public knowledge, need of simplification of complex mental issues, problem of the continuum between normality and psychopathology, competition with medical and non-medical disciplines, and psychopharmacological treatment.
Issues related to psychiatry's own contribution to being underestimated include lack of a clear professional identity, lack of biomarkers supporting clinical diagnoses, limited consensus about best treatment options, lack of collaboration with other medical disciplines and low recruitment rates among medical students.
Much can be improved to achieve a positive self-concept, however, psychiatry will remain a profession with an exceptional position among the medical disciplines which should be seen as its specific strength.
Disclosure of interest
The author has not supplied his declaration of competing interest.