Comments (Martin M. Katz)

In a relatively brief, inviting Preface, Tom Ban recounts the history of research in European psychopathology during the 20th century. He details the contributions o f many of its leading figures and covers ground unfamiliar to many American psychiatrists. These early workers arrive at different formulations of depression, different diagnostic systems and different treatments. Of specific interest is the development of “phenomenologic psychopathology” referencing the roles of Karl Jaspers and Kurt Schneider, noting that they reopened the science in a more enlightened context. The new antidepressants have clearly shaken the approaches to treatment. Such earlier theoretical concepts have been set aside as clinicians adopt a more practical trial and error approach with the new drugs and show less concern for lessons in this historical sphere. Ban is more at home in that context because the approach which relies less on ideas about etiology, provides the foundation for the methodology he will use in the book to “deconstruct major depression, (to) open the path in the study of the biology and genetics of the different depressive subtypes” In so doing he hopes to achieve a “personalized medicine” capable of individualizing the treatment approach for each depressed patient. Ban’s approach will attempt to provide psychiatrists with a new context within which to work. One can look forward to a more complete blueprint for this strategy in the text that follows.

Martin M. Katz
 July 25, 2013


Reply (Martin Katz)

This is a reply to this comment

Sam Gershon is one of the pioneers of psychopharmacology. I am pleased that he is in agreement with my current perspective on the state of research in the field and that he praises the contents of the book.

He and I are disturbed as are many researchers in clinical psychopharmacology, with the failure during the past three decades, to develop new classes of antidepressants. Through the kind of analyses and recommendations outlined in my book and the contributions of others in the field, we hope to encourage young investigators to rethink the nature and definition of the multi-dimensional depressive condition, and to be more innovative in uncovering the specific actions of established and new treatments. 

A change in mind set on the disorders by psychiatry and the introduction of more efficient and less expensive methodology for clinical trials can stimulate the pharmaceutical companies to restart full operations in the development of new psychotropic agents.

Martin M. Katz
September 12, 20013



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