Classical nosology has been the cornerstone of biological psychiatric research; finding biological markers and eventually causes of disease entities has been the major goal. Another approach, designated as ‘functional’, is advanced here, attempting to correlate biological variables with psychological dysfunctions, the latter being considered to be the basic units of classification in psychopathology. Signs of diminished DA, 5–HT and NA metabolism, as have been found in psychiatric disorders, are not disorder-specific, but rather are related to psychopathological dimensions (hypoactivity/inertia, increased aggression/anxiety, and anhedonia) independent of the nosological framework in which these dysfunctions occur. Implications of the functional approach for psychiatry include a shift from nosological to functional application of psychotropic drugs. Functional psychopharmacology will be dysfunction-orientated and therefore geared towards utilising drug combinations. This prospect is hailed as progress, both practically and scientifically.