Theory of Mind for the Psychiatrists

Ang GK, Pridmore S


The "theory of mind", frequently abbreviated as ToM, is a concept borne out of the study of primates and their social organisation. Scholars in philosophy, anthropology, psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience are interested in ToM from different perspectives. Here, we describe the origins of ToM in primates and humans, the neurobiology of ToM, and the possibility that ToM deficits are important in certain psychiatric disorders. The idea of ToM had been around since the 1970s, and still being debated by scholars. It is, however, still a relatively new idea not widely familiar by many practicing psychiatry in clinical settings. We think ToM is a new way of approaching clinical psychiatry. We expect further work in ToM will have an impact on better understanding and the management of mental illness.


theory of mind, mental illness, primate society, human evolution

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