Stress and the dopamine system

Written by Vaughan Bell of Mind Hacks, this summarizes psychology’s frontier:

To generalise, most psychiatrists see themselves as applied neuroscientists, while most clinical psychologists explain psychopathology in terms of mental processes and social relationships, and make little reference to the brain. This rift is partly fuelled by a lack of research that examines how biological and psychological factors interact to cause mental ill health. One 2005 study was a notable and refreshing exception, and has provided a compelling glimpse into how stress and the dopamine system interact to predict the presence of unusual experiences in everyday life.

One of the most heated debates in science concerns whether psychiatric conditions are mainly caused by lifelong brain dysfunction or are largely the result of stress and trauma. This study is one of a growing number that are important because they suggest that a narrow view of human distress is counter-productive, and that we need to understand both the lived experience and the biology of the brain to fully comprehend it.