A Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology Can Transform Mental Health Research
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Description: For over a century, research on psychopathology has focused on categorical diagnoses. Although this work has produced major discoveries, growing evidence points to the superiority of a dimensional approach to the science of mental illness. Here we outline one such dimensional system—the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP)—that is based on empirical patterns of psychological symptom co-occurrence. We highlight key ways in which this framework can advance mental health research, and we provide a heuristic for using HiTOP to test theories of psychopathology. We then review emerging evidence that supports the value of a hierarchical, dimensional model of mental illness across diverse research areas in psychological science. These new data suggest that the HiTOP system has the potential to reform the study of mental health problems and to accelerate efforts to assess, prevent, and treat mental illness effectively.