Classifying Madness: A Philosophical Examination of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders / Edition 1

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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 na ve. 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.

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Editorial Reviews

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“Cooper’s Classifying Madness is an important text in the context of these recent works and a useful addition to the broader, more interdisciplinary, philosophy of psychiatry literature. … Its strengths are its straight-forward presentation, clear focus, and sensible reasoning. … The book will be accessible and of interest to a wide audience of philosophers of science, philosophers of psychiatry, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other researchers interested in issues concerning the classification of mental disorders.” (Jonathan Y. Tsou, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 61 (2), June, 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402033445
  • Publisher: Springer Netherlands
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Series: Philosophy and Medicine Series, #86
  • Edition description: 2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 0.50 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

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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