Since at least the middle of the past century, one overarching model of psychiatric classification has reigned supreme, namely, that of the and the (herein referred to as DSM-ICD). This DSM-ICD approach embraces an Aristotelian view of mental disorders as largely discrete entities that are characterized by distinctive signs, symptoms, and natural histories. Over the past several years, however, a competing vision, namely, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative launched by the National Institute of Mental Health, has emerged in response to accumulating anomalies within the DSM-ICD system. In contrast to DSM-ICD, RDoC embraces a Galilean view of psychopathology as the product of dysfunctions in neural circuitry. RDoC appears to be a valuable endeavor that holds out the long-term promise of an alternative system of mental illness classification. We delineate three sets of pressing challenges—conceptual, methodological, and logistical/pragmatic—that must be addressed for RDoC to realize its scientific potential. We conclude with a call for further research, including investigation of a rapprochement between Aristotelian and Galilean approaches to psychiatric classification.


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