Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders Essay

Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders Essay

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For decades, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has been a tool used for clinical assessments and the diagnoses of mental disorders. New editions and revised versions of the DSM either update or delete many classifications and/or the disorders within them, usually based on a consensus among mental health scientists. However, it seems as if some of the content of the DSM has a tenuous relationship with the concept of reliability and validity as it pertains to what is considered a disorder. Many researchers and theorists have questioned the reliability and validity of the classification system in which the DSM utilizes because of the DSM’s operational definition of a “mental disorder.” These researchers and theorists concluded that the DSM’s definition of a mental disorder lacked appropriate conceptualization. For example, Wakefield critiqued the DSM-III-R’s definition of a mental disorder. His primary contention was that the DSM III-R’s definition of a mental disorder did not articulate the difference between disorder and dysfunction, and that the disparate definition of these terms has to be clearly understood before the comprehensive definition of a mental disorder can be affirmed. Wakefield’s stance mainly aligns with my own position on what the definition of a mental disorder should constitute. However, there are many points in Wakefield’s argument that has incited my other theorists’ criticism of the definition of a mental disorder, which I will discuss in the following.
The definition of a mental disorder is important as it relates to the DSM. The overall meaning of what a mental disorder is influences the decisions to include or exclude certain conditions as mental disorders. Scrutiny of this definit...


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...the DSM-5 includes that a mental disorder is a syndrome characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. The inclusion of biological and developmental processes makes the definition more discrete in recognizing a disorder from a non-disorder because most harmful dysfunctions are mediated by biological processes. To my knowledge, the research literature is moving forward in improving and clearly defining what is considered a mental disorder, more so as to avoid identifying normal functioning as pathological functioning. For now, the DSM’s definition of a mental disorder will suffice, but further contemplation and research can spring up ideas to make the definition even more concrete.

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