Classifying Madness: A Philosophical Examination of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders / Edition 1by Rachel Cooper
Pub. Date: 06/01/2005
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" is important, but it is also controversial. While its publishers claim that the D.S.M. is a scientific classification system based on sound data, many have doubts. Big business has interests in the D.S.M. Perhaps the D.S.M. has been distorted by pressures stemming from insurance companies, or from… See more details below
The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" is important, but it is also controversial. While its publishers claim that the D.S.M. is a scientific classification system based on sound data, many have doubts. Big business has interests in the D.S.M. Perhaps the D.S.M. has been distorted by pressures stemming from insurance companies, or from pharmaceutical companies? Others are concerned that whether a condition is classified as a mental disorder depends too greatly on social and political factors. More conceptual worries are also frequent. If classification requires a theory, and if mental disorders are poorly understood, then a sound classification system may be presently unobtainable. Possibly even attempting to construct a classification system that "cuts nature at the joints" is conceptually naïve. Maybe types of mental disorder are radically unlike, say, chemical elements, and simply fail to have a natural structure.
Classifying Madness offers a sustained philosophical critique of the D.S.M. that addresses these concerns. The first half of the book asks whether the project of constructing a classification of mental disorders that reflects natural distinctions makes sense. I conclude that it does. The second half of the book addresses epistemic worries. Even supposing a natural classification system to be possible in principle, there may be reasons to be suspicious of the categories included in the D.S.M. I examine the extent to which the D.S.M. depends on psychiatric theory, and look at how it has been shaped by social and financial factors. I aim to be critical of the D.S.M. without being antagonistic towards it. Ultimately, however, I am forced to conclude that although the D.S.M. is of immense practical importance, it is not on track to become the best possible classification of mental disorders.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1 What is mental disorder? 2 Are mental disorders natural kinds? 3 The problem of theory-ladenness. 4 The D.S.M. and feedback in applied science. Conclusions. Appendix. References. Index.
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