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Toward a Philosophical Approach to Psychiatry: The Writings of Kenneth Kendler

Toward a Philosophical Approach to Psychiatry presents a collection of philosophical and historical papers authored by the psychiatrist Kenneth S. Kendler. Written primarily for psychiatrists, psychologists, and other scholars in the mental health professions, as a body of work, the papers offer an accessible distillation of many of the best current ideas from the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of science as applied to problems in psychiatric research and practice. The continuous thread running through these papers is a looking behind the common assumptions that nourish unrealistic expectations about what can be discovered about the nature of psychiatric disorders in the short-term––without abandoning a commitment to scientific progress in the long run. After a foreword by Robert Freedman, the book commences with Peter Zachar’s intellectual biography of Kendler followed by Kendler’s own introductions, providing an autobiographical and conceptual background for each paper. In addition to Kendler’s own writings, this collection includes many important collaborative efforts, including papers with John Campbell, Carl Craver, Kenneth Schaffner, Erik Engstrom, Rodrigo Munoz, George Murphy, and Peter Zachar.

Kenneth Kendler holds an MD from Stanford University, USA, and is the Rachel Brown Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Human Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical School and the Director of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics. He is the co-editor of Psychological Medicine and the author of over 800 peer-review journal articles, 10 books, and 40 book chapters. His primary area of research is psychiatric genetics, both behavioral and molecular.

Peter Zachar holds a PhD in Psychology from Southern Illinois University, and is an Ida Belle Young Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at Auburn University Montgomery, USA. He is the author of over 100 publications, including Psychological Concepts and Biological Psychiatry (2000), A Metaphysics of Psychopathology (2014) and Alternative Perspectives on Psychiatric Validation (2015). His primary area of research is philosophical issues in the classification of psychopathology.

“At last psychiatry has come of age in Kendler’s philosophical and scientific voyage into the realm of mental illness. Along the route, he provides a refreshingly integrated, multi-dimensional, and causal scientific paradigm for further research whilst rejecting Cartesian dualism and biological reductionism. This volume is a must for all those concerned with understanding not only mental illness, but the mind as well: psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, and philosophers.”
Aaron T. Beck, MD
Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

“The intersection of two very different classes of scholars—psychiatric geneticists representing the DSM-certified scientific establishment and philosophers of psychiatry interrogating the foundations of psychiatric science—consists of a single individual: Kenneth Kendler. This collection demonstrates the remarkable depth and breadth of Kendler's empirical and theoretical contributions. The reader will come away with a new appreciation of both the great accomplishments and the unsolved mysteries of modern scientific psychiatry.”
Eric Turkheimer, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia

“This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the fundamental nature of mental illness. It is an unparalleled body of work from an unparalleled scholar of the human mind. Weaving together psychiatry, philosophy, neuroscience and the history of science, Kendler tackles the deepest questions of how we understand psychiatric disorders. Written with extraordinary clarity and curiosity, this is a compendium brimming with deep insights.”
Jordan W. Smoller, MD, ScD
Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

“This book is a selection of 21 of Kendler and company’s most important philosophical and historical papers published over the course of his career. These articles are organized in the book into the following content areas: classification and the nature of mental disorders, mind and body, causality and explanation, psychiatric genetics and neuroscience, and historical studies. The book is not merely a rehashing of previously published material, however. There is a new foreword by Robert Freedman (psychiatrist and former editor of The American Journal of Psychiatry), and the book begins with a biography of his life and scholarly career (written by Peter Zachar) which offers us valuable insight into the man behind these articles. Most importantly, each article in the book is preceded by a new introduction by Kendler in which he explains the context in which the article was written, summarizes the conclusions, and reflects on how well the article has stood the test of time. […] Until the “collected works of Kenneth Kendler” are published at some point in the future […] Toward a Philosophical Approach to Psychiatry is likely to remain the most comprehensive and authoritative introduction to the philosophical writings of Ken Kendler, and a must read for all interested in the subject of philosophy of psychiatry.”
Awais Aftab
Metapsychology, Vol. 24, No. 20

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-3880-X

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-3880-1

Release Date: 2nd December 2019

Pages: 546

Price: £70.99


ISBN: 1-5275-9701-6

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-9701-3

Release Date: 22nd April 2023

Pages: 546

Price: £35.99