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Talhout, R.

Auteur: Reinskje Talhout

Afstudeerjaar: 2005

Vakgroep: Theoretische Filosofie

Scriptie: Antidepressants and Mind-Brain Identity: A Case Study



Antidepressants are widely prescribed to alleviate the symptoms that characterise a depression. Their molecular mechanisms of action, as well as psychological theories of depression, have been studied in detail. This provides an excellent case to study the relation between physical and mental state, as well as the topic of the present study. The specific question addressed here will be whether the effect of treatment of depressed individuals with antidepressants provides evidence that the mind-brain identity is true.

To answer this question, the main arguments against mind-brain reduction are discussed first, in order to show that this position is not, in principle, impossible. I argue that in order to prove the mind-brain identity true, structure-relative identities between mental and molecular phenomena must be formulated by an integrative explanation that proceeds from the lowest to the highest level via all intermediate levels. Next, a depression is described in terms of both psychological and neurochemical theories. Finally, the proposed mechanisms of action of antidepressants and their efficacy are compared to those of psychotherapy.

Several correlations between neurochemical and higher-level phenomena have been established. For example, between the first administration of antidepressants and the onset of symptom relieve, the following phenomena have been found to occur: receptor adaptations, increased monoaminergic transmission, increased synaptic plasticity and increased brain plasticity. Strong evidence exists that psychotherapy is able to bring about these changes in our brain as well. These changes have been addressed by Kandel in his reduction of learning processes to neurochemical processes. But although these are important clues, our knowledge of especially the intermediate levels is yet too limited to try for an intertheoretic reduction of the mental to the molecular. If an integrative explanation is ever to be reached, simultaneous research at all levels, together with intensive cooperation between researchers at each level, is of utmost importance.


Laatst gewijzigd:01 november 2013 14:59