International classifications have proved to be ineffective and neurobiological research has not made much progress on the aetiology of mental disorders. Moreover, genetics has now imposed the notion of gene-environment interaction. On the other hand, the general progress in neurophysiology (i.e. brain plasticity, memory circuits, mirror neurons) and empirical studies on the skills of the newborn have confirmed the pathogenetic concepts described by the psychodynamic perspective. Hence, the Author emphasises the importance of the relational approach in mental health and describes a relational model of normal and pathological development. The ensuing preventive and treatment practices have demonstrated effective outcomes. Personality disorders are frequent among adolescents and have become a major issue of mental health services. Ultimately, the Author analyses some current social factors and the organisation of emergency units.
Keywords: Etiopathogenesis and therapy, relational approach, social factors and prevention.