Denosologization of biological psychiatry or the specificity of 5-HT disturbances in psychiatric disorders

Herman M. van Praag, Rene S. Kahn, Gregory M. Asnis, Scott Wetzler, Serena L. Brown, Avraham Bleich, Martin L. Korn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


5-Hydroxytraptamine (5-HT) disorders have been reported to occur in a variety of psychiatric disorders. The situation has been called chaotic, the disturbances non-specific. We reject this viewpoint. 5-HT disturbances are non-specific only from a nosological/categorical viewpoint; they seem rather specific from a functional/dimensional point of view, correlating as they do with particular psychopathological dimensions, i.e. aggression-, anxiety- and possibly mood-disregulation, across diagnosis. The evolution of 5-HT research in psychiatry illustrates the importance of what we have called the functional approach, implying dissection of a given psychopathological syndrome in its component parts, i.e., the psychological dysfunctions, and searching for correlations between biological and psychological dysfunctions. The rigid preoccupation of biological psychiatry with the search for markets of disease entities has hampered progress. The functional approach should be incorporated in biological psychiatry, not as an alternative for the nosological approach but as its complement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-Hydroxytryptamine
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depressive disorder
  • Mood
  • Psychiatric disorder


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