J. López-Ibor, M. López-Ibor
Actas espanolas de psiquiatria
Psychiatry is going through a deep crisis, both as a scientific discipline as a medical speciality. In the present paper we consider in length what we consider to be the three aspects that could explain the situation: the recurring disappointment in classification; the persistence of dualistic perspectives in research; and third, the continuing of a localizacionism inadequate to explain normal and pathological behaviour. Psychiatry lacks a definition of mental disorder that covers all situations, there are difficulties in drawing a precise distinction between normality and psychopathology, and the majority of these “diagnostic” categories are not validated by biological criteria. Furthermore, there is still a debate on the nature of the symptoms of mental disorders, a confusion classification and diagnosis and a preoccupation with the growing inflation of diagnostic categories. Dualism is at the core of psychopathology, simply because Cartesian dualism led to the development of modern science, but the price paid includes the split-up of mental and physical phenomena and illnesses and of psychiatry and the rest of medicine. Localizationism, that is, the approach to brain function considering that particular pychological functions are carried out by particular brain areas or centers, helps to understand many clinical and psychological phenomena, but have largely fild in explaining the nature of most mental disorders. In a second part of this article we provide some strategies that could help to go beyond the present impasse.