, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 449-453
Date: 16 Jan 2010

Dominic Murphy: Psychiatry in the scientific image

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In Psychiatry in the Scientific Image, Dominic Murphy attempts to provide a solution to the demarcation problem for mental illnesses. He seeks to answer the following questions: What are mental illnesses, what is mental about them, what makes them illnesses, and how we can explain and classify them. In other words, what is the difference between a social deviation that is not considered a “disorder” and a behavior that is indeed a “real” disorder? From the other side, what is the difference between migraine—a non-mental disorder—and schizophrenia?

The fundamental challenge a philosopher of science often faces is the double requirement of being a philosopher as well as an expert in the field of science under investigation. Murphy handles this challenge impressively. The book is extensive and covers various fields in philosophy (science, psychology, and mind) as well as the current state of scientific knowledge regarding psychopathology, including pharmacological, evolutionary, and cognit