The goal of this article is to highlight the significant potential benefits of applying computational mathematical models to the field of psychiatry, specifically in relation to diagnostic conceptualization. The purpose of these models is to augment the current diagnostic categories that utilize a "snapshot" approach to describing mental states. We hope to convey to researchers and clinicians that non-linear dynamics can provide an additional useful longitudinal framework to understand mental illness. Psychiatric phenomena are complex processes that evolve in time, similar to many other processes in nature that have been successfully described and understood within deterministic chaos and non-linear dynamic computational models. Dynamical models describe mental processes and phenomena that change over time, more like a movie than a photograph, with multiple variables interacting over time. The use of these models may help us understand why and how current diagnostic categories are insufficient. They may also provide a new, more descriptive and ultimately more predictive approach leading to better understanding of the interrelationship between psychological, neurobiological, and genetic underpinnings of mental illness. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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