Taking the long view: an emerging framework for translational psychiatric science

World Psychiatry 13 (2):110-117 (2014)

Authors
Lisa Bortolotti
University of Birmingham
Abstract
Understood in their historical context, current debates about psychiatric classification, prompted by the publication of the DSM-5, open up new opportunities for improved translational research in psychiatry. In this paper, we draw lessons for translational research from three time slices of 20th century psychiatry. From the first time slice, 1913 and the publication of Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, the lesson is that translational research in psychiatry requires a pluralistic approach encompassing equally the sciences of mind (including the social sciences) and of brain. From the second time slice, 1953 and a conference in New York from which our present symptom-based classifications are derived, the lesson is that, while reliability remains the basis of psychiatry as an observational science, validity too is essential to effective translation. From the third time slice, 1997 and a conference on psychiatric classification in Dallas that brought together patients and carers with researchers and clinicians, the lesson is that we need to build further on collaborative models of research combining expertise-by-training with expertise-by-experience. This is important if we are to meet the specific challenges to translation presented by the complexity of the concept of mental disorder, particularly as reflected in the diversity of desired treatment outcomes. Taken together, these three lessons – a pluralistic approach, reliability and validity, and closer collaboration – provide an emerging framework for more effective translation of research into practice in 21st century psychiatry.
Keywords mental disorder  psychiatric classification  translational research
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