In her review of Jerome Kagan's book The Temperamental Thread: How Genes, Culture, Time, and Luck Make Us Who We Are, Kristin Buss quotes from Kagan's book that "the practice of pooling diseases with diverse causes into one diagnostic group will delay discovery of the unique biological characteristics and best therapy for each disease (p. 165)." She suggests that this underlies one of the main take-home messages of the book—that behavior is influenced by a myriad of factors, with temperamental variation, biology, and experiences each being a factor that forms only part of the story. Thus, Kagan believes that using the same labels for disorders that include a heterogeneous set of characteristics impedes scientific advancement in understanding the cause(s) of psychopathology.
Do you agree or disagree with Kagan's perspective? What are some examples of disorders that have been grouped into the same category yet likely have different sets of causes? What are the implications of this for diagnosis and treatment? How flexible are current approaches for treating disorders as more specific etiologies are discovered?
By Kristin A. Buss
PsycCRITIQUES, 2010 Vol 55(41)