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Ian Pitchford

In contemporary psychiatry therapeutic intervention and scientific research into the nature of mental disorders are guided by an avowedly atheoretical scheme of classification. I argue that useful concepts for a science of psychopathology are those representing projectable categories, and that such categories delineate natural kinds, or non-arbitrary aspects of the world that facilitate the identification of lawful regularities and thereby permit reliable extrapolation from observed to unobserved instances. The search for these natural kinds should be guided by the theoretical principles of an approach I have named ‘evolutionary developmental psychopathology’. This perspective holds that the allocation of causal co-determinants to opposing explanatory schemata inspired by well-established dichotomous approaches undermines our understanding of human psychology and psychopathology by obscuring the perception that the features of biological organisms are constructed by a plethora of disparate developmental resources that share comparable informational or causal status. An emphasis on both proximate and ultimate causes combined with an appreciation that human minds are composed of developmentally plastic, polymorphic, and sexually dimorphic psychological mechanisms, which are subserved by distributed neural components that participate in the functioning of more than one faculty, allows us to re-evaluate existing data and to formulate new hypotheses capable of integrating results from seemingly unconnected domains. However, because our attitude towards the treatment of disorders or problems of any kind necessarily involves a complex psycho-social cost-benefit analysis, I contend that clinical taxonomy will tend to reflect a nonepistemic agenda that is itself mutable according to the strictures established by prevailing norms and resources. This conclusion implies that the search for a single scheme of psychiatric classification capable of serving the needs of both researchers and clinicians may well be futile.  


Chapter 1. Introduction: Genealogical Actors in Ecological Roles


Chapter 2. The Separation of Contradictory Things


Chapter 3. The Problem of Classification in Psychiatry


Chapter 4. Evolution and Human Nature


Chapter 5. The Society of Mind


Chapter 6. Evolutionary Developmental Psychopathology




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© Ian Pitchford and Robert M. Young - Last updated: 28 May, 2005 02:29 PM

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