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Research in psychopathology: epistemologic issues.
Publication types: Journal Article ; Review
Etiologic research in psychiatry relies on an objectivist epistemology positing that human cognition is specified by the "reality" of the outer world, which consists of a totality of mind-independent objects. Truth is considered as some sort of correspondence relation between words and external objects, and mind as a mirror of nature. In our view, this epistemology considerably impedes etiologic research. Objectivist epistemology has been recently confronting a growing critique from diverse scientific fields. Alternative models in neurosciences (neuronal selection), artificial intelligence (connectionism), and developmental psychology (developmental biodynamics) converge in viewing living organisms as self-organizing systems. In this perspective, the organism is not specified by the outer world, but enacts its environment by selecting relevant domains of significance that constitute its world. The distinction between mind and body or organism and environment is a matter of observational perspective. These models from empirical sciences are compatible with fundamental tenets of philosophical phenomenology and hermeneutics. They imply consequences for research in psychopathology: symptoms cannot be viewed as disconnected manifestations of discrete localized brain dysfunctions. Psychopathology should therefore focus on how the person's self-coherence is maintained and on the understanding and empirical investigation of the systemic laws that govern neurodevelopment and the organization of human cognition.
Humans, Mental Disorders/etiology, Mental Disorders/psychology, Models, Neurological, Neural Networks (Computer), Object Attachment, Personality Development, Self Concept, Social Environment
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