The debate on how psychopathology can be defined and explained is far from over. With few exceptions, single theories devoted to explaining single/distinct disorders have been developed. Yet, the existence of similar correlations and comorbidity between disorders and symptoms in adult populations challenge scholars to look for a general theory which might explain psychopathology, throughout its different manifestations. Literature (reviews, most cited articles of the last ten years, influential contribution) has been explored to identify points of consensus among scholars which might orient the effort to explain the “what” and “the how” of psychopathology. From different conceptual models and lines of research, some important tenets can be recognized: a) hierarchical models are needed to account the evidence that different disorders are at the same time correlated and distinguishable; b) specific syndromes are linked at a more basic level, such that they can be conceived of as specific instantiations of a coherent underlying domain of human variation (spectrum conceptualization), c) given high correlations at the spectrum level, there may be one underlying factor – the so-called “P” factor – that summarizes individuals’ vulnerability to psychopathology and giving way to distinct patterns of symptoms over time. It remains a controversial topic whether the p factor reflects a substantive construct, how its nature might be conceptualized and how it changes over time. Based on clinical experience and varies theories over time, the present work will deepen the suggestion that the general factor might be conceptualized in terms of rigid perseveration in the way of interpreting the intersubjective field of experience. By this perspective, to explain psychopathology we need of a general theory on how the mind works, on the basic mechanism which leads people to persist on their own way of thinking and acting and on the conditions under which dysfunctionalities emerge.
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