Showing posts from July, 2021

On Constructs and Mental Illness

Constructs are abstract concepts we use to organize available information for the purpose of (scientific) description and/or explanation. Constructs are ubiquitous in science in this sense; “gravity” and “temperature” are constructs, so are “intelligence” and “self-esteem”. Constructs can be immensely powerful when they capture features of the natural world (vs merely reflecting features of human interest), such as elements of the periodic table or fundamental particles in the standard model. But many scientific constructs do not map onto the world in such a powerful way as to “carve nature at its joints”. These constructs, while they do reflect features of the world (they are organizing information after all) also reflect human interests and goals to varying degrees.       Diagnostic constructs in psychiatry are typically ways of organizing observed behaviors and reported experiences into particular categories or dimensions. To emphasize, for instance, DSM categories as “constructs”