Week 8: Mental Illness

Theories of the Causes of Mental Illness

Supernatural: Mental illnesses, like all illness, are caused by supernatural forces such as possession by evil spirits.

Hippocratic: Mental illnesses result from humoral imbalances. Diseases: Phrenitis, melancholia, mania.

Freud: Neuroses derive from sexual experiences in childhood.

Neurological: Mental illnesses derive from malfunctions in neurochemistry.

Social (Szasz): Mental illness is a social construction.

Multifactorial: Mental illness results from an interplay of genetic and environmental factors.


Diagnostic Criteria for Mental Disorders

Discussion Questions for Week 9

  1. What is the relation between pathways and mechanisms?
  2. How are pathways and mechanisms represented?
  3. How are diseases explained in terms of malfunctions? Are all diseases malfunctions?
  4. What malfunctional explanations apply to mental illnesses?
  5. How can knowledge about pathways be used to find new treatments for disease?
  6. If consciousness is an inherent part of mental illnesses, can they be given mechanistic explanations?

Student Symposia

I. Nov.23: Life and death: Mikhael, Toombs, Bullen, Carriere, Isenberg.

II. Nov. 23: Consciousness. Christelis, Menken, Osterberg, Stumpf.

III. Nov. 30: Psychological explanation: Carvalho, Finn, Lockhart, Moore.

IV. Nov. 30: Illness: Grupp, Heckbert, Honeyford, Oliver, Poproski.

Each presentation should be no more than 8 minutes, allowing 2 minutes for questions. Each symposium will be followed by 10 minutes of general discussion. The presentations should outline the central issues of your topic and your general arguments and conclusions.


Life, Mind, and Disease

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Nov. 1, 2004