Network Analyses of Psychopathology

One longstanding controversy in our field concerns whether psychopathology should be conceptualized categorically or dimensionally.  That is, do mental disorders differ by kind or by degree? Categorical and dimensional approaches constitute attempts to explain a fundamental observation: psychiatric symptoms do not co-occur randomly; some are more likely to co-occur than others are.

Our research group has been exploring an entirely different approach to conceptualizing psychopathology, pioneered by the psychometrician, Denny Borsboom, and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam. This network perspective holds that mental disorders are emergent phenomena issuing from causal interactions among a syndrome’s symptoms.  Hence, symptoms do not reflect an underlying disorder; they are constitutive of disorder.  We have been extending this method to deepen our understanding of posttraumatic stress disorder, complicated grief, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Related Articles:

McNally, R. J. (in press). Networks and nosology in posttraumatic stress disorder, JAMA-Psychiatry.
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McNally, R. J., Mair, P., Mugno, B. L., & Riemann, B. C. (in press). Comorbid obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression: A Bayesian network approach. Psychological Medicine.
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Robinaugh, D. J., Millner, A., J., & McNally, R. J. (2016). Identifying highly influential nodes in the complicated grief Network. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125, 747-757.
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McNally, R. J. (2016). Can network analysis transform psychopathology? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 86, 95-104
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Heeren, A., & McNally, R. J. (2016). An integrative network approach to social anxiety disorder: The complex dynamic interplay among attentional bias for threat, attentional control, and symptoms. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 42, 95-104.
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McNally, R. J., Robinaugh, D. J., Wu, G. W. Y., Wang, L., Deserno, M. K., & Borsboom, D. (2015).  Mental disorders as causal systems: A network approach to posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinical Psychological Science, 3, 836-849.
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Robinaugh, D. J., LeBlanc, N. J., Vulitech, H. A., & McNally, R. J. (2014). Network analysis of persistent complex bereavement disorder in  conjugally bereaved adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123, 510-522.
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