Workshop Causal Explanation in Psychiatry 22 August

Since psychiatry firmly established itself as a scientific discipline, it has been propelled forward by the hope that the different diagnostic categories will turn out to correspond to unique underlying causes. However, so far there is hardly any evidence that the behavioral, cognitive and emotional manifestations of disorders such as major depression or schizophrenia can be traced back to relatively simple, common causal trajectories. Rather, the etiology of almost all mental disorders seems to be multifactorial. Different etiological factors also appear to span different levels of explanation, ranging from the (epi)genetic, neurobiological to the psychological and social level.

Progress with respect to these fundamental issues has been limited in the past decades. This has led to different responses: clinicians, broadly speaking, tend to be sceptical about the prospects of causal modeling in psychiatry; whereas scientists tend to cling to a reductionist and scientistic view on mental disorder, according to which true explanation of mental disorder is considered the province of the natural sciences only (biology, genetics, neuroscience).

Psychiatry needs to find a way beyond scepticism and scientism. The aim of the workshop is to discuss novel theoretical and empirical strategies that exploit this tension in a fruitful and constructive way