The Continuum Between Temperament and Mental Illness as Dynamical Phases and Transitions Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • The full range of biopsychosocial complexity is mind-boggling, spanning a vast range of spatiotemporal scales with complicated vertical, horizontal, and diagonal feedback interactions between contributing systems. It is unlikely that such complexity can be dealt with by a single model. One approach is to focus on a narrower range of phenomena which involve fewer systems but still cover the range of spatiotemporal scales. The suggestion is to focus on the relationship between temperament in healthy individuals and mental illness, which have been conjectured to lie along a continuum of neurobehavioral regulation involving neurochemical regulatory systems (e.g., monoamine and acetylcholine, opiate receptors, neuropeptides, oxytocin), and cortical regulatory systems (e.g., prefrontal, limbic). Temperament and mental illness are quintessentially dynamical phenomena, and need to be addressed in dynamical terms. A meteorological metaphor suggests similarities between temperament and chronic mental illness and climate, between individual behaviors and weather, and acute mental illness and frontal weather events. The transition from normative temperament to chronic mental illness is analogous to climate change. This leads to the conjecture that temperament and chronic mental illness describe distinct, high level, dynamical phases. This suggests approaching biopsychosocial complexity through the study of dynamical phases, their order and control parameters, and their phase transitions. Unlike transitions in physical systems, these biopsychosocial phase transitions involve information and semiotics. The application of complex adaptive dynamical systems theory has led to a host of markers including geometrical markers (periodicity, intermittency, recurrence, chaos) and analytical markers such as fluctuation spectroscopy, scaling, entropy, recurrence time. Clinically accessible biomarkers, in particular heart rate variability and activity markers have been suggested to distinguish these dynamical phases and to signal the presence of transitional states. A particular formal model of these dynamical phases will be presented based upon the process algebra, which has been used to model information flow in complex systems. In particular it describes the dual influences of energy and information on the dynamics of complex systems. The process algebra model is well-suited for dealing with the particular dynamical features of the continuum, which include transience, contextuality, and emergence. These dynamical phases will be described using the process algebra model and implications for clinical practice will be discussed.

publication date

  • 2020