The prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the human population today is alarmingly high. For instance, major depression afflicts ten to twenty-five percent of women and five to twelve percent of men in their lifetime. Along with that, twenty-five percent of the population suffers from anxiety disorders and the same percentage suffer from some form of substance abuse. The fact is, however, that these statistics do not even begin to cover the myriad of psychiatric disorders found in the world today. These startling rates bring in the increasing need for psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are medical specialists that are specially trained in medical school to diagnose and treat patients with severe mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They also order and oversee diagnostic tests and procedures, formulate treatment plans and offer psychotherapeutic and medicinal treatment (Durgin 1). Psychiatry offers an exciting, challenging, and rewarding career; it also requires the most extensive training of any of the professions.
Since the beginning of civilization, people have attempted to understand the causes of human emotional behavior. Most primitive societies believed that mental illnesses were caused by a demon who took possession of the victim's body. The early civilizations would treat the mental illnesses by trying to make the body so uncomfortable that the demon would want to leave. But, by the late eighteenth century, most people were convinced that mental disturbances were not caused by supernatural powers. Scientists, however, were still unsure whether such illnesses stemmed from physical problems or psychological abnormalities. The nineteenth century saw an explosion of interest in medical theories regarding mental disorders. In 1861, Paul Pierre Broca discovered that tumors led to speech loss, and sparked other scientist's search for the answers to the mysteries of the brain. In the 1940s and 1950s emphasis shifted again, this time to social and physical enviornment.