Evaluating the Validity of Animal Models of Mental Disorder: From Modeling Syndromes to Modeling Endophenotypes

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (4):1-26 (2022)
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This paper provides a historical analysis of a shift in the way animal models of mental disorders were conceptualized: the shift from the mid-twentieth-century view, adopted by some, that animal models model syndromes classified in manuals such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), to the later widespread view that animal models model component parts of psychiatric syndromes. I argue that in the middle of the twentieth century the attempt to maximize the face validity of animal models sometimes led to the pursuit of the ideal of an animal model that represented a behaviorally defined psychiatric syndrome as described in manuals such as the DSM. I show how developments within psychiatric genetics and related criticism of the DSM in the 1990s and 2000s led to the rejection of this ideal and how researchers in the first decade of the twenty-first century came to believe that animal models of mental disorders should model component parts of mental disorders, adopting a so-called endophenotype approach.

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Hein Van Den Berg
University of Amsterdam


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