Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology (research)

Meet the staff

Mark van der Gaag

Dr. Mark van der Gaag,  Professor of Clinical Psychology

I am fascinated by psychosis. I have been working as a practitioner-scientist for many years, combining health care development with scientific research. The interesting of psychosis is the interaction between environmental risk factors and the hereditary biological vulnerability. In this field the nature-nurture debate is still ongoing, but this debate is nowadays slowly resolving in an integrated biopsychosocial model of psychiatric illnesses. Odd experiences are mostly driven by a dysfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine, but the formation and maintenance of delusional explanations of these odd experiences are mainly psychological processes distorted by cognitive biases. And so psychosis is open for psychological therapies to change appraisals and reduce suffering.

At this moment I am involved in a multi-site randomized trial to detect people with an ultrahigh risk for developing psychosis within a year in a help-seeking population. People with an at risk mental status are asked to participate in randomized trial comparing a cognitive-behavioral intervention that aims to prevent or postpone psychosis with treatment as usual.
E-health applications we are developing now is the use of virtual reality to test hypotheses about the triggering stimuli of suspiciousness and the development of VR exposure therapies as a first step to overcome fear and prevent avoidance behavior and paranoia.

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