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SchizophreniaEvolution and Synthesis$
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Steven M. Silverstein, Bita Moghaddam, and Til Wykes

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019620

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019620.001.0001

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What Kind of a Thing Is Schizophrenia?

What Kind of a Thing Is Schizophrenia?

Specific Causation and General Failure Modes

Chapter:
(p.25) 2 What Kind of a Thing Is Schizophrenia?
Source:
Schizophrenia
Author(s):

Angus W. MacDonald

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262019620.003.0002

The status of schizophrenia as a disorder has been controversial since its original description by Kraepelin and Bleuler. This chapter critiques a prominent theory of schizophrenia espoused by Meehl in 1962 that spurred a great deal of research into its genetic origins and subthreshold manifestations. In particular, a decade of findings on the meta-structure of mental disorders, the development and course of at-risk youth, and genetic epidemiology can be understood as direct challenges to the idea of a specific etiology for the disorder. Instead of a well-mannered diagnostic entity, schizophrenia and thought disorder more generally delineate a psychosis spectrum linked to a number of other psychiatric outcomes, including, but not limited to, bipolar affective disorder. In addition, studies of the cognitive impairments associated with the disorder show that a generalized deficit is a prominent behavioral feature of the disorder. This chapter concludes by noting that spectrum constructs do not preclude generating and testing falsifiable hypotheses. The use of a fault tree analysis, as employed in reliability engineering, may be helpful in delineating such hypotheses explicitly. This perspective gives rise to a new set of priority questions. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.

Keywords:   Schizophrenia, Etiology, Schizotypy, Development, Genetics, Cognition, Heterogeneity, Equipotentiality, Multipotentiality

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