This “glimmer of light” announced a “new dawn” in the diagnosis and treatment of “neuropsychiatric disorders” (893). We could quote dozens of claims characterized by the same structure: first comes a strongly pessimistic observation about the “current” situation, then a declaration of hope in future breakthroughs in understanding pathogenesis. These breakthroughs depend on the underlying belief that psychological distress is essentially a state of the brain and must be ultimately understood and explained as such, a belief also expressed by the common use of brain disorder and neuropsychiatry to refer to what used to be called mental disorder and psychiatry.
Understanding the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric disorders is a substantial challenge for neurobiologists. It has long been hoped that identifying alleles that confer increased risk of such disorders would provide clues for neurobiological investigation. But this quest has been stymied by a lack of validated biological markers for characterizing and distinguishing the different disorders and by the genetic complexity underpinning these diseases. Now, modern genomic technologies have begun to facilitate the discovery of relevant genes.
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Inspired by the homonymous book by Fernando Vidal and Francisco Ortega, this timespace presents the authors' genealogy of the cerebral subject and the influence of the neurological discourse in human sciences, mental health and culture.