Early Osteopathic Thought on Serious Mental Illness and How Osteopathic Medicine Fits Into Psychiatry Today
Osteopathic medical students spend considerable time learning the history, philosophy, and theories of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and skills of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), all of which are tested on licensing exams. Data from the National Resident Matching Program show that 17.4% of fourth-year osteopathic medical students matched into psychiatry postgraduate year-1 positions in 2021, compared with 6.5% in 2019. However, very few osteopathic psychiatrists utilize OMT.
Since its inception, osteopathic medicine has theorized about and proposed treatments for serious mental illness, such as mood disorders and schizophrenia. However, there has been minimal mention in osteopathic textbooks of the treatment of these conditions with OMT (1), limited studies investigating use of OMT for serious mental illness, and no official OMT clinical guidelines for psychiatric conditions. Furthermore, application of OMT requires physical touch—a controversial and ethically charged topic within psychiatry. The goal of this article is to contextualize early osteopathic thought about the treatment of serious mental illness, propose reasons for the decline in OMT utilization in psychiatry, and briefly discuss current literature on using OMT in psychiatry … MORE