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Clusters, lines and webs—so does my patient have psychosis? reflections on the use of psychiatric conceptual frameworks from a clinical vantage point

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tibor Kovacs, Dr Stuart Watson, Professor Douglas Turkington



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s). Mental health professionals working in hospitals or community clinics inevitably face the realisation that we possess imperfect conceptual means to understand mental disorders. In this paper the authors bring together ideas from the fields of Philosophy, Psychiatry, Cognitive Psychology and Linguistics to reflect on the ways we represent phenomena of high practical importance that we often take for granted, but are nevertheless difficult to define in ontological terms. The paper follows through the development of the concept of psychosis over the last two centuries in the interplay of three different conceptual orientations: the categorical, dimensional and network approaches. Each of these represent the available knowledge and dominant thinking styles of the era in which they emerged and take markedly different stances regarding the nature of mental phenomena. Without particular commitment to any ontological positions or models described, the authors invite the reader into a thinking process about the strengths and weaknesses of these models, and how they can be reconciled in multidisciplinary settings to benefit the process of patient care.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kovacs TZ, Hill RW, Watson S, Turkington D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Online publication date: 14/02/2022

Acceptance date: 22/01/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1747-5341

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s13010-022-00118-0

PubMed id: 35152913