Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2017

Abstract

Our reexamination of the symptoms and main measure of vital exhasution (VE) suggests that the overlap of VE with depression has been problematically underestimated due to inconsistent comparisons and blindness to definitional similarities. In our view, the case of VE is emblematic of a trend toward construct proliferation. Many ‘‘new’’ constructs are introduced in the literature precipitously, with insufficient examination of their added value, and based on ‘‘linguistic contortions’’ and anecdotal evidence rather than robust empirical findings and sound theorizing. Such constructs are often ‘‘distinguished’’ from existing ones on the basis of specious arguments and missing-the-point conclusions. This is for instance the case when Appels and Mulder overlook the fact that depressed mood and lowered self-esteem cannot be invoked to distinguish depression from VE because depressed mood and lowered self-esteem are constituents of demoralization, a component of VE. We plead for a greater respect of the principle of parsimony, in the interest of theoretical clarity and effective transdisciplinary communication.

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