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Scholarly Communication

A psychological model of mental disorder

Kinderman, Peter (2005) A psychological model of mental disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 13 (4). pp. 206-217. ISSN Online: 1465-7309; Print: 1067-3229

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A coherent conceptualisation of the role of psychological factors is of great importance in understanding mental disorder. Academic papers and professional reports alluding to psychological models of the aetiology of mental disorder are becoming increasingly common, and there is evidence of a marked policy shift towards the provision of psychological therapies and interventions. This paper discusses the relationship between biological, social and psychological factors in the causation and treatment of mental disorder. It argues that simple biological reductionism is not scientifically justified, and also that the specific role of psychological processes within the biopsychosocial model requires further elaboration. The biopsychosocial model is usually interpreted as implying that biological, social and psychological factors are co-equal partners in the aetiology of mental disorder. The psychological model of mental disorder presented here suggests that disruption or dysfunction in psychological processes is a final common pathway in the development of mental disorder. These processes include, but are not limited to, cognitive processes. The model proposes that biological and environmental factors, together with a person’s personal experiences, lead to mental disorder through their conjoint effects on these psychological processes. Implications for research, interventions and policy are discussed.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Online Publication Date: 01 July 2005. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Uncontrolled Keywords:psychological processes; biopsychosocial model; biological reductionism
Subjects:R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Population, Community & Behavioural Sciences
Publisher's Statement:This is an electronic version of an article published in Kinderman, Peter (2005) 'A Psychological Model of Mental Disorder', Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 13:4, 206 - 217. Harvard Review of Psychiatry is available online at: with the open url for this article,
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ID Code:447
Deposited On:09 May 2008 16:14
Last Modified:20 May 2011 13:59

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