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Integrating biological and social approaches

Peter Kinderman discusses both the strengths and weaknesses of the biological approaches to mental health and well-being.

A brief critique of the week’s discussions, and an introduction to next week’s material.

In this brief video, I discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of the biological approaches to mental health and well-being. The science and the logical arguments are both strong: we know that the functioning of our brains lies beneath all our behaviours, thoughts and emotions, and so biological approaches cannot be dismissed. And yet, many psychologists and social psychologists think that biological approaches alone cannot fully explain our experience of mental health problems. Next week, we will be looking at social perspectives on mental health. Your challenge, over the course as a whole, is to consider how these different approaches can be integrated. This week, your task is to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the biological component of the ‘biopsychosocial model’.

For those of you without a medical background, the ‘Simply Psychology’ site might give an idea of the biological complexities around the functioning of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, as well as the body’s biological response to stress. You might also want to read their comments on the so-called ‘medical model’. You might find some of the comments a little inflammatory, even biased. You might think they’ve got it entirely right! Personally, I wouldn’t phrase things this way, and I don’t agree with everything this site is saying… but I think it’s worth reading and discussing these issues… because these different perspectives do exist, and well-meaning people hold these contradictory and conflicting views.

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Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture

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