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J Mol Psychiatry. 2014 May 16;2(1):3. doi: 10.1186/2049-9256-2-3. eCollection 2014.

Centenary of Karl Jaspers's general psychopathology: implications for molecular psychiatry.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Rostock, Gehlsheimerstra├če 20, 18147 Rostock, Germany.

Abstract

Modern molecular psychiatry benefits immensely from the scientific and technological advances of general neuroscience (including genetics, epigenetics, and proteomics). This "progress" of molecular psychiatry, however, will be to a degree "unbalanced" and "epiphytic" should the development of the corresponding theoretical frameworks and conceptualization tools that allow contextualization of the individual neuroscientific findings within the specific perspective of mental health care issues be neglected. The General Psychopathology, published by Karl Jaspers in 1913, is considered a groundbreaking work in psychiatric literature, having established psychopathology as a space of critical methodological self-reflection, and delineating a scientific methodology specific to psychiatry. With the advance of neurobiology and molecular neuroscience and its adoption in psychiatric research, however, a growing alienation between current research-oriented neuropsychiatry and the classical psychopathological literature is evident. Further, consensus-based international classification criteria, although useful for providing an internationally accepted system of reliable psychiatric diagnostic categories, further contribute to a neglect of genuinely autonomous thought on psychopathology. Nevertheless, many of the unsolved theoretical problems of psychiatry, including those in the areas of nosology, anthropology, ethics, epistemology and methodology, might be fruitfully addressed by a re-examination of classic texts, such as Jaspers's General Psychopathology, and their further development and adaptation for 21st century psychiatry.

KEYWORDS:

Brain; Materialism; Methodology; Mind; Neuroscience; Philosophy; Reductionism; Theory of science

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