The Concept of Mental Illness--Where the Debate has Reached and Where it Needs to Go

The paper develops a framework for discussing concepts of health and disease along two dimensions. The first is the role of values in our disease concepts, and the second is the relationship between science and folk psychology. This framework is then applied to the concept of mental disorder. I argue that existing treatments of the concept yield too much authority to common sense, which produces a tension within the program of finding a scientific basis for our ascriptions of mental disorder. The science should be given more authority, even if this leads to counterintuitive results. I conclude by identifying several smaller scale conceptual problems within the application of science to mental illness, and argue that the debate needs to shift towards dealing with such problems in an empirically informed way, rather than remaining at the level of conceptual analysis. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords mental illness   health   values   science   folk psychology
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DOI 10.1037/h0091255
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