Accounting for intentionality in mental disorder: a network approach
This project focuses on one specific feature a notion of translation in psychiatry should account for: the intentionality inherent in mental disorder. The relations between the symptoms of a mental illness often involve intentional information. That is, descriptions of mental states such as beliefs, desires and emotions indicate ‘what they are about’. Such intentional information is crucial for understanding how different symptoms ‘hang together’; moreover, it plays an important role in clinical practice as it offers entry points for several forms of treatment. In the search for an alternative to reductionism, the question how to deal with intentionality in mental disorder is an urgent question. In this project we will examine how an account of translation could account for the intentionality of psychiatric symptoms. More specifically, we will explore to what extent a network approach offers possibilities for a fruitful account of intentionality in mental disorders. We choose the network approach as it recently surfaced as an important theoretical candidate for understanding mental disorder, and has claimed to be able to encompass intentional information. The main questions for this project will be: how should we analyze the intentionality of symptoms when they are seen as nodes in a network? Could intentionality be part of a mechanistic explanation of mental disorder? To what extent is intentionality context-bound, and how can a network approach take the required contextual factors into account? By addressing these questions, we will determine important theoretical constraints for a viable notion of translation.
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