Common Conceptual Mistakes in Psychiatry & Psychology

Some common conceptual mistakes in psychiatry and psychology, in my opinion:

1. Thinking that scientific explanations must necessarily reside at a certain level of explanation [good scientific explanations are not constrained by reductionism or holism]

2. Thinking that the mental/psychological and the physical/biological are mutually exclusive [we need to avoid false binaries between mind and body]

3. Thinking of the mind in terms of entities and "mental stuff" rather than dynamic interactions and regulatory processes

4. Thinking that we can infer the nature of specific phenomena from definitions of disease concepts [we cannot]

5. Thinking that if a phenomenon exists on a continuum, we can't/shouldn't categorize it [we can categorize based on our pragmatic goals]

6. Thinking that if a phenomenon exists naturally on a spectrum, there cannot be qualitative differences between two ends of the spectrum [quantity becomes quality]

7. Thinking that meaningful scientific progress necessarily requires a paradigm shift [it doesn't]

8. Thinking that seeming incommensurability prevents us from adopting a plurality of perspectives [different perspectives are not necessarily antagonistic or mutually exclusive just because they approach and explain things differently] 

9. Seeing fallibilism as a weakness [fallibilism is a virtue]

10. Thinking necessarily in terms of linear causality rather than organizational causality

11. Thinking that operational constructs provide a causal explanation.

12. Mistaking pragmatic kinds (such as "medical") for essential kinds

13. Thinking that socially-influenced is socially-constructed

14. Thinking that value-ladenness precludes a scientific approach

15. Thinking that the world is divided into the "natural" and the "social", and the psyche either belongs to one or the other, or has to be fractured between the two.

Some additional mistakes, brought up by Dr Richard Gipps

16. Confusing an unproblematic duality for a problematic dualism. 

17. Assuming that psychiatric distinctions (like organic/functional) map neatly onto metaphysical distinctions (like mind/body) -- i.e. making presuppositions about, rather than patiently investigating, the actual nature of psychiatric language games. 

18. Assuming that formal causes are efficient causes (e.g. assuming that when someone says ‘schizophrenia causes hallucinations’ they are trying to provide an efficient cause).