The Mechanistic Approach to Mental Illness

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1993, Vol 38(11), 1214–1215. Reviews the book, The Science of Mental Illness by Ethan E. Gorenstein (1992). Clinical psychology and psychopathology have had an enormously difficult time creating a progressive knowledge base. Faddish and chaotic, these fields tend to lurch from one hot idea to another. The purpose of this book is to understand why this is and to provide an alternative. The most impressive parts of the book are those that explain the ways in which the conflicts and conundrums of clinical psychology are dismantled into elements. The arguments are sensitive to the issues involved and honest, open, and systematic Gorenstein pushes the reader to look critically at the most basic assumptions and reasoning in the area of psychopathology. This kind of work is very important and all too rare within applied psychology. Many, many doctoral clinical psychologists have never carefully thought through what it is their field is doing and whether these approaches are logically sound. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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