Psychiatry and the Sociology of Novelty: Negotiating the US National Institute of Mental Health “Research Domain Criteria”

Science, Technology, and Human Values 44 (4):612-633 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health is seeking to encourage researchers to move away from diagnostic tools like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A key mechanism for this is the “Research Domain Criteria” initiative, closely associated with former NIMH Director Thomas Insel. This article examines how key figures in US psychiatry construct the purpose, nature, and implications of the ambiguous RDoC project; that is, how its novelty is constituted through discourse. In this paper, I explore and analyze these actors’ accounts of what is new, important, or desirable about RDoC, demonstrating how they are constituted through institutional context and personal affects. In my interviews with mental health opinion leaders, RDoC is presented as overly reliant on neurobiological epistemologies, distant from clinical imaginaries and imperatives, and introduced in a top-down manner inconsistent with the professional norms of scientific research. Ultimately, the article aims to add empirical depth to current understandings about the epistemological and ontological politics of contemporary psychiatry and to contribute to science and technology studies debates about “the new” in technoscience. Accordingly, I use discussions about RDoC as a case study in the sociology of novelty.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,592

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The need for new ontologies in psychiatry.Robyn Bluhm - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):146-159.
Research Domain Criteria as Psychiatric Nosology.Faisal Akram & James Giordano - 2017 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (4):592-601.
Models of Mental Illness.Jacqueline Sullivan - 2016 - In Harold Kincaid, Jeremy Simon & Miriam Solomon (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Medicine. Routledge. pp. 455-464.
Can Psychiatry Refurnish the Mind?Dominic Murphy - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):160-174.
Can psychiatry refurnish the mind?Dominic Murphy - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):160-174.


Added to PP

5 (#1,295,374)

6 months
2 (#528,188)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Politics of Life Itself.Nikolas Rose - 2001 - Theory, Culture and Society 18 (6):1-30.
The history of the brain and mind sciences. [REVIEW]Alfred Freeborn - 2019 - History of the Human Sciences 32 (3):145-154.

View all 6 references / Add more references