Psychiatric disorders are among the most complex human disorders that, albeit often difficult to diagnose and treat, are widespread in modern society. Biological psychiatry studies biological functions of the central nervous system as mental disorders develop. Today’s biological psychiatry is facing multiple conceptual problems that prevent our deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis and delay the invention of new treatments. Thus, providing a historical context to this rapidly developing field may help scientists better understand the existing challenges and their potential solutions. Here, we discuss the main conceptual problems and paradigms of biological psychiatry, including the lack of reproducibility and/or valid theories, through an historical overview of its role in addressing theoretical and clinical questions. We propose a wider use of the translational approach in psychiatry to expand our analyses of psychiatric disorders to other species, and as a tool to create and further develop theories and concepts in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)278-292
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Communications
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological psychiatry
  • Conceptual issues in psychiatry
  • History of psychiatry
  • Modern psychiatry
  • Translational medicine


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