The metaphysics of mental disorder

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Psychiatry is caught up in a number of philosophical errors. One is reductionism, as psychiatry tends to seek underlying biological causes for mental disorders. The other is dualism, as it thinks of mental disorders as either caused by our brains or caused by our minds. Both these errors are a result of seeing the world as made up of a hierarchy of things. Instead, if psychiatry saw the world as fundamentally made up of processes, dynamically interacting with each other, a much more nuanced understanding of mental disorders would become available to it, argues Elly Vintiadis.  Following the tradition of Democritus and the atomists, traditional metaphysics in the West has seen the world as made up of things that are in turn made up of smaller things – and so on all the way down. This, however, is only one possible way of seeing the world. Another one is that of Heraclitus who famously said that everything flows. According to this view, the world is co…

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