In this blog post, Eiko Fried disputes the pervasive assumption that the most common psychiatric diagnoses are biologically based brain disorders, asserting that the rampant biological reductionism within the mental health field is harmful to scientific progress.
“In sum, while the idea the mental disorders are brain disorders is certainly a position one can have, the fact of the matter is that, despite many decades of considerable research efforts into uncovering underlying biological mechanisms, we have not identified specific and reliable markers for many of the most prevalent mental disorders. As discussed by Engel, the biomedical model has become a cultural imperative — a dogma.
Now, there is nothing wrong with biological psychiatry or related disciplines: trying to understand the biology of mental illness is as important as trying to understand other aspects, and I personally know many fantastic and thorough researchers doing amazing work in this field — some are close colleagues and friends. But that is not the point here. The point is that important conclusions drawn regularly by prominent researchers in the field do not follow from data, and if anybody would argue that ‘depression is a social disorder’ (in contrast to a ‘brain disorder’), I would push back equally hard: things are not that simple.”