The absent body in psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, and research

Synthese 196 (6) (2019)
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Discussions of psychiatric nosology focus on a few popular examples of disorders, and on the validity of diagnostic criteria. Looking at Anorexia Nervosa, an example rarely mentioned in this literature, reveals a new problem: the DSM has a strict taxonomic structure, which assumes that disorders can only be located on one branch. This taxonomic assumption fails to fit the domain of psychopathology, resulting in obfuscation of cross-category connections. Poor outcomes for treatment of Anorexia may be due to it being pigeonholed as an Eating Disorder, when a disturbance of body perception may be a more central symptom than food restriction. This paper explores the possibility of restructuring the DSM taxonomy to allow for a pluralist classification of disorders. This change could improve treatment and research without requiring any changes to diagnostic criteria.

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Catherine Stinson
Queen's University