The current socio-economic and political changes in Europe are having (and are likely to continue to have) a profound impact on psychiatry and on the mental health of European citizens. Globalisation and European integration, changes in the middle class, advances in science and the information revolution are probably the most influential of the many factors that have rendered obsolete many of the tenets of psychiatry in Europe. The presentation will discuss these tenets and propose ways to reformulate them. Particular attention will be given to the definition of psychiatry as a discipline, to its place in relation to other professions and to the ways in which it is practised. Some suggestions will also be made about desirable directions for research in the future.