Event

Feb 10, 2022
Thick descriptions in psychopathology: Ryle meets Kraepelin

The history of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for mental disorders (DSM) shows, from the 1960s onwards, a sharp turn towards the empirical facts of psychiatric illness, up to the point where psychiatrists nowadays use data-driven machine learning methods for predicting course of illness and steering clinical interventions. An often implicit assumption in this broadly empiricist view of psychiatry is that the data give a reliable and sufficiently precise representation of the reality of psychiatric illness. However, clinical practice involves a rich and nuanced variety of indicators, patient characteristics, symptoms, and the like. What eventually gets captured in psychiatric data? Do we register enough to validate our disease concepts and motivate treatment decisions in the clinic? In our paper we investigate what data conception can do justice to proper translations, both ways, between clinical applications and statistical research. In the background we employ a rich literature on the theory-ladenness of observations, as well as more recent literature on the measurement and definition of symptoms and phenomena. Our conclusion will be that we need to keep our focus on empirical fact, echoing Kraepelin's viewpoints, but that, for a causally complex science like psychiatry, we have to enrich our schemas for registering those facts, employing what Ryle called "thick descriptions".

Rainbow Cake

This image is supposed to evoke the idea of thick descriptions: multi-layered, diversified, and rich. Note: We do not intend to convey that the use of thick descriptions in psychiatry is a piece of cake. (Photo by Anirban Sengupta on Unsplash.)

Address
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Room
Zoom/Online Meeting Platform
Contact and Registration

The seminar series is open to all. To receive the zoom link, please email Birgitta von Mallinckrodt (officekeuck@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de).

About This Series

This research seminar is hosted by the Bordeaux-Berlin Working Group on Translating Validity in Psychiatric Research and brings together historians, philosophers, psychiatrists and biomedical researchers.

2022-02-10T15:00:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2022-02-10 15:00:00 2022-02-10 16:30:00 Thick descriptions in psychopathology: Ryle meets Kraepelin The history of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for mental disorders (DSM) shows, from the 1960s onwards, a sharp turn towards the empirical facts of psychiatric illness, up to the point where psychiatrists nowadays use data-driven machine learning methods for predicting course of illness and steering clinical interventions. An often implicit assumption in this broadly empiricist view of psychiatry is that the data give a reliable and sufficiently precise representation of the reality of psychiatric illness. However, clinical practice involves a rich and nuanced variety of indicators, patient characteristics, symptoms, and the like. What eventually gets captured in psychiatric data? Do we register enough to validate our disease concepts and motivate treatment decisions in the clinic? In our paper we investigate what data conception can do justice to proper translations, both ways, between clinical applications and statistical research. In the background we employ a rich literature on the theory-ladenness of observations, as well as more recent literature on the measurement and definition of symptoms and phenomena. Our conclusion will be that we need to keep our focus on empirical fact, echoing Kraepelin's viewpoints, but that, for a causally complex science like psychiatry, we have to enrich our schemas for registering those facts, employing what Ryle called "thick descriptions". This image is supposed to evoke the idea of thick descriptions: multi-layered, diversified, and rich. Note: We do not intend to convey that the use of thick descriptions in psychiatry is a piece of cake. (Photo by Anirban Sengupta on Unsplash.) Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany Zoom/Online Meeting Platform Lara KeuckSteeves Demazeux Lara KeuckSteeves Demazeux Europe/Berlin public