G. Dumas
World Psychiatry
Publication year: 2022

When it comes to symptom emergence and treatment of disorders, psychiatry and neuroscience do not always find common ground. On the one hand, neuroscientific research approaches mental disorders through their biological correlates using brain recordings; on the other, clinical psychiatry relies on self-report measures collected during face-to-face interviews. Taking into account both neural and experiential dimensions thus appears as one of the key challenges to the integration between neuroscience and psychiatry.

One aspect in which neuroscience and psychiatry do see eye to eye is in their restricted account of interpersonal dynamics. In psychiatry, the focus is primarily put on the mental state examination of the patient, although most mental disorders severely affect and are affected by social dynamics. Similarly, in neuroscience, the “social brain” has been paradoxically studied in isolated contexts, inferring that mere passive social perception and active social interaction are encoded in the same way at the brain level. Yet, research has widely shown that the development of children’s social abilities requires subtle social interactions with their parents, involving an active and reciprocal co-regulation of the exchanges. Recent advancements in social neuroscience suggest that the relationship between brains and social dynamics might offer a unique opportunity for the neuroscience-psychiatry integration while acknowledging the inherent socialness of mental disorders.

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