Editorial: ‘People get ready’: Are mental disorder diagnostics ripe for a Kuhnian revolution?
Edmund J.S. Sonuga-Barke
How is practical progress possible in child psychology and psychiatry? How does science advance to promote therapeutic innovation? The importance of the exciting stuff – new insights and ideas, studied using cutting edge and innovative technologies – is self‐evident. However, the philosophy of science has shown us that less obvious and more mundane elements are also essential. This is because scientific progress is only possible where attempts to break new ground are solidly anchored in a stable shared framework of assumptions – a metatheory – about the general nature of the phenomenon being studied. This framework defines what questions are considered ‘scientific’ – questions that it ‘makes sense’ to ask from a scientific point of view and those that are considered out of bounds (scientists with less subtle minds even considering such to be nonquestions rather than different sorts of questions). Kuhn called this framework a paradigm and the research activity that originates from it, normal science (Kuhn, 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). These frameworks also serve a vital regulatory function because they contain common concepts that embody shared points of reference that allow scientists to communicate with each other to share their ideas, hypotheses and findings (Habermas, 1979, Communication and the evolution of society; Boston: Beacon Press).
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Edmund Sonuga-Barke is currently Professor of Developmental Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience working in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King’s College London. He also holds Visiting Chairs at Ghent University, Aarhus University and the University of Sussex. He is Editor in Chief of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. His work integrates Developmental Psychopathology and Neuroscience perspectives to employing basic developmental science approaches to study the pathogenesis of neuro-developmental and mental health conditions; their underlying genetic and environmental risks, mediating brain mechanisms and developmental outcomes. He has a particular interest in ADHD and related disorders. In 2016, Prof Sonuga-Barke was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.