The Continuum from Temperament to Mental Illness: Dynamical Perspectives Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Temperament in healthy individuals and mental illness have been conjectured to lie along a continuum of neurobehavioral regulation. This continuum is frequently regarded in dimensional terms, with temperament and mental illness lying at opposite poles along various dimensional descriptors. However, temperament and mental illness are quintessentially dynamical phenomena, and as such there is value in examining what insights can be arrived at through the lens of our current understanding of dynamical systems. The formal study of dynamical systems has led to the development of a host of markers which serve to characterize and classify dynamical systems and which could be used to study temperament and mental illness. The most useful markers for temperament and mental illness apply to time series data and include geometrical markers such as (strange) attractors and repellors and analytical markers such as fluctuation spectroscopy, scaling, entropy, recurrence time. Temperament and mental illness, however, possess fundamental characteristics that present considerable challenges for current dynamical systems approaches: transience, contextuality and emergence. This review discusses the need for time series data and the implications of these three characteristics on the formal study of the continuum and presents a dynamical systems model based upon Whitehead’s Process Theory and the neurochemical Functional Ensemble of Temperament model. The continuum can be understood as second or higher order dynamical phases in a multiscale landscape of superposed dynamical systems. Markers are sought to distinguish the order parameters associated with these phases and the control parameters which describe transitions among these dynamics.

publication date

  • 2021