A Metaphysics of Psychopathology
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.
About the Author
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.
—Richard J. McNally, Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of What Is Mental Illness?
—George Graham, Professor of Philosophy, Georgia State University
—Rachel Cooper, author of Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science and Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
—Assen Jablensky, Winthrop Professor of Psychiatry, The University of Western Australia
Honorable Mention, 2014 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Award) in Psychology, presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers