The granddaddy of psychiatry is Sigmund Freud, born in 1856. Freud came up with many concepts that are now a part of psychiatry -- and of popular culture. These include the ego, the unconscious, the slip of the tongue, and repression. Freud invented psychoanalysis ("the talking cure"). And he didn't just talk the talk; he walked the walk, doing self-analysis to test out his ideas.
Although many of his controversial ideas have been rejected by today’s psychiatrists, Freud left behind a body of work that still grips our cultural imagination.
Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the physical causes and effects of mental illness. Some focus on talk therapy, helping patients heal through talking about their problems, and others focus on treating illness with medication. Many combine these approaches.
Unlike psychoanalysts, who focus on the unconscious, psychiatrists who take a cognitive approach focus on the way their patients think about themselves and the world around them.
Highly motivated -- both the training and the work are very demanding. You'll need to be a good communicator who's emotionally stable and able to make sound, well-informed decisions.
The field of psychiatry has changed radically with the introduction of drugs such as Xanax (for anxiety) and Prozac (for depression).