Borsboom2022 - Systems-based approaches to mental disorders are the only game in town

Example citation

Systems-based approaches may be the best way to cumulatively build and improve theoretical models of mental disorders [@borsboom2022]

Key takeaways

  • Mental disorders have turned out to be massively complex. Interactions between genes, neural processes, behavior, environment, and culture.
  • They use the metaphor of a Procrustean bed
  • If we can build complicated climate models, we should be able to model how therapy may affect mental disorders.
    • To do this you need a mathematical representation of the components in the system. Then you can predict and model potential changes.
    • There are computational models of MDD, PTSD and panic disorder

A systems-based approach, as practiced in other domains of science, allows us to explicitly model the interactions among a set of components across time scales and levels of analysis. These models, in turn, allow us to investigate those systems and evaluate how they give rise to the phenomena of interest. In the domain of mental health, a systems-based approach allows us to take the compelling but vague biopsychosocial framework and make it concrete, positing the precise system that gives rise to the etiology, maintenance and recovery from a mental disorder.

Given the heterogeneous and multifactorial nature of mental disorders, it will be all but hopeless to advance our understanding of these disorders without the assistance of formal models.