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November 1995

Chaos and Complexity: Can It Help Us to Understand Mood and Behavior?

Author Affiliations

The Scripps Research Institute CVN-14 10666 N Torrey Pines Rd La Jolla, CA 92037

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1995;52(11):960-964. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1995.03950230074010

WHEN A disaster such as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City occurs, many people wonder why psychiatrists, law officials, friends, and relatives are not more capable of accurately predicting human behavior. Not only during periods of disaster but also in day-to-day practice, psychiatrists are constantly faced with life-defining decisions based on the accurate Prediction of behavior. One of the most common and important decisions facing psychiatrists treating very ill patients is predicting if or when Patients will be dangerous to themselves or to others. While great strides have been made in the diagnosis and treatment of severe mental illness, few models have directly addressed the issue of predictability of behavior. Gottschalk et al1 address this issue from a new theoretical approach. The article, in part, challenges us to question whether the laws governing complex physical systems may help us better Predict the fluctuations in mood states associated