Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Extraordinary Science and PsychiatryResponses to the Crisis in Mental Health Research$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Jeffrey Poland and Serife Tekin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262035484

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262035484.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

Kinds or Tails?

Kinds or Tails?

(p.15) 2 Kinds or Tails?
Extraordinary Science and Psychiatry

Edouard Machery

The MIT Press

Are psychiatric syndromes the tails of traits distributed over the general population or do they form distinct kinds or taxa? For instance, do individuals suffering from depression form a distinct kind or rather are they the tail of the distribution of neuroticism in the general population? Do people suffering from delusions form a distinct kind or rather are they individuals with an extreme openness to experience? Before being able to answer such questions, we must address a preliminary question: How would we know whether psychiatric syndromes should be treated as taxa or as the tails of distributions defined over the general population? To address this preliminary epistemological question, I first contrast informal methods (e.g., clinical judgment) and formal methods (e.g., cluster analysis), arguing for the superiority of the latter. I then examine some of the formal methods developed in taxometrics, including cluster analysis and Paul Meehl’s taxometric procedures (e.g., MAXCOV or MAMBAC), in order to understand what assumptions about kinds or taxa are built into them.

Keywords:   Nosology, Kind, Taxon, Distribution, Taxometrics, MAXCOV, MAMBAC, cluster analysis, factor analysis

MIT Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.