The Psychologist has a fascinating article on how neuroscience fits in to our understanding of mental illness and what practical benefit brain science has – in lieu of the fact that it currently doesn’t really help us a great deal in the clinic.
It is full of useful ways of thinking about how neuroscience fits into our view of mental distress.
The following is a really crucial section, that talks about the difference between proximal (closer) and distal (more distant) causes.
In essence, rather than talking about causes we’re probably better off talking about causal pathways – chains of events that can lead to a problem – which can include common elements but different people can arrive at the same difficulty in different ways.
A useful notion is to consider different types of causes of symptoms lying on a spectrum, the extremes of which I will term ‘proximal’ and ‘distal’…
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