The metaphysics of mental disorders

C C Offline

INTRO: Psychiatry is caught up in a number of philosophical errors.

One is reductionism, as psychiatry tends to seek underlying biological causes for mental disorders.

The other is dualism, as it thinks of mental disorders as either caused by our brains or caused by our minds.

Both these errors are a result of seeing the world as made up of a hierarchy of things.

Instead, if psychiatry saw the world as fundamentally made up of processes, dynamically interacting with each other, a much more nuanced understanding of mental disorders would become available to it, argues Elly Vintiadis.

EXCERPTS: . . . we have not managed to reduce mental disorders to disorders in the brain, or find their ‘essence’. Most mental disorders are multicausal (caused by many factors) and causally heterogeneous (the same disease can be caused by different combinations of factors) and evidence shows that the onset and post-onset course of many disorders is caused by environmental, social and cultural factors. For instance, there is no one underlying biological cause of major depression - it can result from a number of different possible causal pathways.

[...] These three problems of essentialism, reductionism and dualism, do not necessarily go hand in hand with a non-processual metaphysics, but they are only possible within such frameworks. By adopting process metaphysics, we can explain why questions such as whether a disorder has biological or social causes or what a disorder really is, are ill-posed while providing a context in which such questions do not arise. Because mental disorders are complex phenomena that manifest in different ways, operate at different timescales and emerge through diverse causal pathways they are better understood as processes, made up of a collection of processes that interact in non-linear ways....(MORE - missing details)
Magical Realist Offline
I can see how anxiety/depression may be partially caused by the mind and the thoughts it produces, but the etiology of schizophrenia, bipolarism, Alzheimer's, and autism seems brain-based as MRIs turn up more cerebral structures associated with those conditions..Hence the success of pharmaceutical treatments for these forms of mental illness.
Syne Offline
MRIs do not determine causation...without a presumption of reductionism. Due to neuroplasticity in brain structures, we have no evidence that the mind isn't the cause of the physiological differences.
Pharmaceutical interventions are not cures. So we can only say that they help/alter the condition, at best. We cannot say that they directly address the underlying causes.

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