Is Another kind of Biologization Possible? On Biology and the psy Sciences

Svend Brinkmann*, Rasmus Birk, Peter Clement Lund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


The relationship between biology and the psy disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy) is a complex one. Many scholars have criticized how these disciplines have been biologized in the 20th century, especially since the emergence of psychopharmacology, neuroscience, and genetic research. However, biology is not just a laboratory-based science of chemical compounds, scanners, and DNA sequencing, but also a field science based on observations of organisms in their milieus. In this paper, we draw a contrast between laboratory-based biology with a focus on brains and genes, and an ecology-based biology with a focus on lives and niches. Our argument is philosophical in nature – building partly on Wittgenstein as a “philosopher of life” – to the effect that the psy sciences need not just less biologization of the former kind, but also more biologization of the latter kind to avoid a prevalent mentalism. Not least when it comes to an understanding of psychological distress, which can favorably be viewed situationally and coupled to human lives in ecological niches.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntegrative Psychological and Behavioral Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)719-737
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Biologization
  • Ecology
  • Mentalism
  • Mutualism
  • Niches
  • Psy sciences


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