Psychotherapy is delicate psychosurgery

The paper involves an attempt to draw out the implications of a ‘moderate materialism’ for the understanding of mental illness. The argument of the paper is that once a moderate materialism which navigates carefully between the poles of (materialist) reductionism and dualism has been unpacked, the relations between the manifestations, bases, aetiologies and treatments of mental illnesses emerge as being considerably more complex than is often allowed for. Specifically, the conceptual tools required within a moderate materialist position about the mind allow us to expose potential fallacies in thinking about the nature of mental illnesses, in inferences drawn from these ‘natures’ to ideal modes of treatment, and in inferences drawn from treatment response. It is concluded that moderate materialism undermines the oversimplifications which tend to cloud ‘biophysical versus psychosocial’ debates in the field of psychopathology, in part because psychological change is physiological change, and because physiological change and/or intervention need not ‘cure’ by removing a physiological cause.
Keywords mental illness  psychopathology  mind-brain relations
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