Peter Zachar

Peter Zachar is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Auburn University Montgomery. He is the author of Psychological Concepts and Biological Psychiatry: A Philosophical Analysis.

  • A Metaphysics of Psychopathology

    A Metaphysics of Psychopathology

    Peter Zachar

    An exploration of what it means to think about psychiatric disorders as “real,” “true,” and “objective” and the implications for classification and diagnosis.

    In psychiatry, few question the legitimacy of asking whether a given psychiatric disorder is real; similarly, in psychology, scholars debate the reality of such theoretical entities as general intelligence, superegos, and personality traits. And yet in both disciplines, little thought is given to what is meant by the rather abstract philosophical concept of “real.” Indeed, certain psychiatric disorders have passed from real to imaginary (as in the case of multiple personality disorder) and from imaginary to real (as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder). In this book, Peter Zachar considers such terms as “real” and “reality”—invoked in psychiatry but often obscure and remote from their instances—as abstract philosophical concepts. He then examines the implications of his approach for psychiatric classification and psychopathology.

    Proposing what he calls a scientifically inspired pragmatism, Zachar considers such topics as the essentialist bias, diagnostic literalism, and the concepts of natural kind and social construct. Turning explicitly to psychiatric topics, he proposes a new model for the domain of psychiatric disorders, the imperfect community model, which avoids both relativism and essentialism. He uses this model to understand such recent controversies as the attempt to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM-5. Returning to such concepts as real, true, and objective, Zachar argues that not only should we use these metaphysical concepts to think philosophically about other concepts, we should think philosophically about them.

    • Hardcover $45.00 £38.00

Contributor

  • Extraordinary Science and Psychiatry

    Extraordinary Science and Psychiatry

    Responses to the Crisis in Mental Health Research

    Jeffrey Poland and Şerife Tekin

    Leading scholars offer perspectives from the philosophy of science on the crisis in psychiatric research that exploded after the publication of DSM-5.

    Psychiatry and mental health research is in crisis, with tensions between psychiatry's clinical and research aims and controversies over diagnosis, treatment, and scientific constructs for studying mental disorders. At the center of these controversies is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which—especially after the publication of DSM-5—many have found seriously flawed as a guide for research. This book addresses the crisis and the associated “extraordinary science” (Thomas Kuhn's term for scientific research during a state of crisis) from the perspective of philosophy of science. The goal is to help reconcile the competing claims of science and phenomenology within psychiatry and to offer new insights for the philosophy of science.

    The contributors discuss the epistemological origins of the current crisis, the nature of evidence in psychiatric research, and the National Institute for Mental Health's Research Domain Criteria project. They consider particular research practices in psychiatry—computational, personalized, mechanistic, and user-led—and the specific categories of schizophrenia, depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Finally, they examine the DSM's dubious practice of pathologizing normality.

    Contributors Richard P. Bentall, John Bickle, Robyn Bluhm, Rachel Cooper, Kelso Cratsley, Owen Flanagan, Michael Frank, George Graham, Ginger A. Hoffman, Harold Kincaid, Aaron Kostko, Edouard Machery, Jeffrey Poland, Claire Pouncey, Şerife Tekin, Peter Zachar

    • Hardcover $50.00 £40.00
  • Classifying Psychopathology

    Classifying Psychopathology

    Mental Kinds and Natural Kinds

    Harold Kincaid and Jacqueline A. Sullivan

    Scholars question the extent to which current psychiatric classification systems are inadequate for diagnosis, treatment, and research of mental disorders and offer suggestions for improvement.

    In this volume, leading philosophers of psychiatry examine psychiatric classification systems, including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), asking whether current systems are sufficient for effective diagnosis, treatment, and research. Doing so, they take up the question of whether mental disorders are natural kinds, grounded in something in the outside world. Psychiatric categories based on natural kinds should group phenomena in such a way that they are subject to the same type of causal explanations and respond similarly to the same type of causal interventions. When these categories do not evince such groupings, there is reason to revise existing classifications.

    The contributors all question current psychiatric classifications systems and the assumptions on which they are based. They differ, however, as to why and to what extent the categories are inadequate and how to address the problem. Topics discussed include taxometric methods for identifying natural kinds, the error and bias inherent in DSM categories, and the complexities involved in classifying such specific mental disorders as “oppositional defiance disorder” and pathological gambling.

    Contributors George Graham, Nick Haslam, Allan Horwitz, Harold Kincaid, Dominic Murphy, Jeffrey Poland, Nancy Nyquist Potter, Don Ross, Dan Stein, Jacqueline Sullivan, Serife Tekin, Peter Zachar

    • Hardcover $45.00 £38.00