Reimagining psychoses: An agnostic approach to diagnosis

Matcheri S. Keshavan, Brett A. Clementz, Godfrey D. Pearlson, John A. Sweeney, Carol A. Tamminga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objectives: Current approaches to defining and classifying psychotic disorders are compromised by substantive heterogeneity within, blurred boundaries between, as well as overlaps across the various disorders in outcome, treatment response, emerging evidence regarding pathophysiology and presumed etiology. Methods: We herein review the evolution, current status and the constraints posed by classic symptom-based diagnostic approaches. We compare the continuing constructs that underlie the current classification of psychoses, and contrast those to evolving new thinking in other areas of medicine. Results: An important limitation in current psychiatric nosology may stem from the fact that symptom-based diagnoses do not "carve nature at its joints"; while symptom-based classifications have improved our reliability, they may lack validity. Next steps in developing a more valid scientific nosology for psychoses include a) agnostic deconstruction of disease dimensions, identifying disease markers and endophenotypes; b) mapping such markers across translational domains from behaviors to molecules, c) reclustering cross-cutting bio-behavioral data using modern phenotypic and biometric approaches, and finally d) validating such entities using etio-pathology, outcome and treatment-response measures. Conclusions: The proposed steps of deconstruction and "bottom-up" disease definition, as elsewhere in medicine, may well provide a better foundation for developing a nosology for psychotic disorders that may have better utility in predicting outcome, treatment response and etiology, and identifying novel treatment approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnosis
  • Pathophysiology
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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