Realism and operationism in psychiatric diagnosis

Philosophical Psychology 24 (2):207-222 (2011)
Abstract
In the context of psychiatric diagnosis, operationists claim that mental disorders are nothing more than the satisfying of objective diagnostic criteria, whereas realists claim that mental disorders are latent entities that are detected by applying those criteria. The implications of this distinction are substantial in actual clinical situations, such as in the co-occurrence of disorders that may interfere with one another's detection, or when patients falsify their symptoms. Realist and operationist conceptions of diagnosis may lead to different clinical decisions in these situations, affecting treatment efficacy and ultimate patient outcomes
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