What is it about?

Our understanding of mental disorders like depression has focused on trying to understand syndromes (e.g., major depressive disorder). However, these syndromes have been critiqued for being too broad and for not being valid. This paper argues that understanding the symptoms of mental disorders like depression (e.g., loss of pleasure or depressed mood) may actually improve how we describe and explain them.

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Why is it important?

This paper outlines what we call the "Phenomena Detection Method" or PDM. The PDM is a new framework that can help researchers build an explanation of the key symptoms of mental disorders across four steps. The PDM is a "bottom-up" approach - its goal is to help researchers understand a complex thing like "depression" by analysing its key parts (i.e., symptoms).


The big takeaway from this article is to understand that symptoms may be more useful than how we currently think of them. Some symptoms are not just "indicators" of an underlying dysfunction; rather, they "manifest" from that dysfunction. Therefore, it follows that being able to explain the key symptoms of a mental disorder like depression may actually help us understand the mental disorder as a whole.

Mr Samuel Clack
Victoria University of Wellington

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: From symptoms of psychopathology to the explanation of clinical phenomena, New Ideas in Psychology, August 2019, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.newideapsych.2019.01.004.
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