Being able to figure out what is wrong with someone is very hard to do. It is also a never ending job if you think about it. Everyone has some type of mental disorder. Just most people try hide their inadequacies. Sometimes, it becomes to much for people to handle and that is when they need to get some professional help. Psychiatrists not only have to figure out was is wrong with these people. They have to help them fix themselves, which is even harder to do.
The study of chemical interactions and brain-states is one that is peer-reviewed and a respected area of science in psychiatry, but not all aspects of psychiatry enjoy the same rigor. The ability to establish clear methodology in many experiments or to ensure rigor in testing leads to many legitimate criticisms of the field, and there are many more of those who practice it.
Psychiatry is not a hard science. There has never been any hard evidence to back up any of its claims about mental illness being biological in nature. The diagnostic process is purely subjective. My cousin who is a combat veteran was diagnosed with PTSD after his experience in Afghanistan. He was having a lot of issues with his treating psychiatrist, So he saw another one and hid his service record from them. Funnily enough, He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. When you look at the list of symptoms for both conditions, They are almost identical. How can life experience change a supposedly biological illness?
Psychology is a social science. Neurology is a natural science. Psychiatry draws off of the theories and findings of these fields in an attempt to engineer people's minds in certain ways using certain techniques (treatments) with the goal of alleviating distress and promoting 'function' (scarce quotes because what is good function is essentially a philosophical question or question of social and cultural norms that can't be answered by science).
It's important to keep in mind what it is so as not to turn it into a mere tool of social regulation. I'd agree that people need to know the difference between what's real and what's not (psychosis is serious and needs treatment), but psychiatry overreaches when it starts labeling people as ill just because it disapproves of their thoughts, feelings, or behavior. This is not to say that all behavior should be approved of by society, just that not all unapproved behaviors should be considered illnesses. Some should merely be frowned upon (eating soup with your hands in public), others criminalized (rape).
Psychiatry is more of a social science than it is a hard science. One reason is
that there is an incredibly wide spectrum of approaches to the issues
addressed by psychiatry. Another reason is that societal impacts will
have a strong effect on how an issue is helped or even perceived.
Psychiatry is more of a social science that takes many years to study for and be truly useful in the field. The field is important for the general population because more and more people are finding it necessary to sue. The science is hard to pin down and to categorize it.
Psychiatry is more of a social science than it is a hard science. One reason is that there is an incredibly wide spectrum of approaches to the issues addressed by psychiatry. Another reason is that societal impacts will have a strong effect on how an issue is helped or even perceived.