In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role (...) of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part I of this article will take up the first two questions. With the first question, invited commentators express a range of opinion regarding the nature of psychiatric disorders, loosely divided into a realist position that the diagnostic categories represent real diseases that we can accurately name and know with our perceptual abilities, a middle, nominalist position that psychiatric disorders do exist in the real world but that our diagnostic categories are constructs that may or may not accurately represent the disorders out there, and finally a purely constructivist position that the diagnostic categories are simply constructs with no evidence of psychiatric disorders in the real world. The second question again offers a range of opinion as to how we should define a mental or psychiatric disorder, including the possibility that we should not try to formulate a definition. The general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances. (shrink)
We compare astronomers' removal of Pluto from the listing of planets and psychiatrists' removal of homosexuality from the listing of mental disorders. Although the political maneuverings that emerged in both controversies are less than scientifically ideal, we argue that competition for "scientific authority" among competing groups is a normal part of scientific progress. In both cases, a complicated relationship between abstract constructs and evidence made the classification problem thorny.
In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role (...) of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part I of this article took up the first two questions. Part II will take up the second two questions. Question 3 deals with the question as to whether DSM-V should assume a conservative or assertive posture in making changes from DSM-IV. That question in turn breaks down into discussion of diagnoses that depend on, and aim toward, empirical, scientific validation, and diagnoses that are more value-laden and less amenable to scientific validation. Question 4 takes up the role of pragmatic consideration in a psychiatric nosology, whether the purely empirical considerations need to be tempered by considerations of practical consequence. As in Part 1 of this article, the general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances. (shrink)
The scientific study of emotion has been characterized by classification schemes that propose to 'carve nature at the joints.' This article examines several of these classifications, drawn from both the categorical and dimensional perspectives. Each classification is given credit for what it contributes to our understanding, but the dream of a single, all purpose taxonomy of emotional phenomena is called into question. Such hopes are often associated with the carving at the joints metaphor, which is here argued to be harmful (...) to scientific realism, and better rejected in favor of a pragmatic approach. Questioning the mere discovery theory of scientific progress, I argue that psychologists discover facts about their domain of study, but have to decide how to classify them. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Cramer et al.'s critique of latent variables implicitly advocates a type of scientific anti-realism which can be extended to many dispositional constructs in scientific psychology. However, generalizing Cramer et al.'s network model in this way raises concerns about its applicability to psychopathology. The model could be improved by articulating why a given cluster of symptoms should be considered disordered.
In this important new book in the IPPP series, a group of leading thinkers in psychiatry, psychology, and philosophy offer alternative perspectives that address both the scientific and clinical aspects of psychiatric validation, emphasizing throughout their philosophical and historical considerations.
The thesis of this article is that an attitude akin to pragmatism is internal to the scientific enterprise itself, and as a result many scientists will make the same types of non-essentialistic interpretations of their subject matter that are made by pragmatists. This is demonstrably true with respect to those scientists who study the biological basis of emotion such as Panksepp, LeDoux, and Damasio. Even though these scientists are also influenced by what cognitive psychologists call the essentialist bias, their research (...) programs are coherent with Peter Zachar?s rejection of natural kinds in favor of practical kinds. When the confrontation with complexity leads a scientist to offer non-essentialist interpretations, two popular options are to go eliminativist or go nominalist. Pragmatists prefer the nominalistic option, and we provide reasons for suggesting that scientists should as well. (shrink)
When i was in graduate school, I inadvertently walked in on a fellow student taking his comprehensive exams. He was extremely frustrated because two of the questions asked about conceptual issues in personality and personality disorders. This student was not expecting such questions and considered them to be unfair. I knew other students in that same program who would have considered it a gift to get such “interesting” questions. Those clinical and counseling psychologists with theoretical–philosophical interests are often attracted to (...) the topics of personality and personality disorders. It has, therefore, puzzled me why these same topics are largely ignored by those philosophers who study the conceptual issues of .. (shrink)
This article critically examines Louis Charland’s claim that personality disorders are moral rather than medical kinds by exploring the relationship between personality disorders and virtue ethics. We propose that the conceptual resources of virtue theory can inform psychiatry’s thinking about personality disorders, but also that virtue theory as understood by Aristotle cannot be reduced to the narrow domain of ‘the moral’ in the modern sense of the term. Some overlap between the moral domain’s notion of character-based ethics and the medical (...) domain’s notion of character-based disorders is unavoidable. We also apply a modified version of John Sadler’s “moral wrongfulness test” to borderline and narcissistic personality disorders. With respect to both diagnoses, we argue that they involve negative moral evaluations, but may also have indispensable nonmoral features and, therefore, classify legitimate psychiatric disorders. (shrink)
In the conclusion to this multi-part article I first review the discussions carried out around the six essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis – the position taken by Allen Frances on each question, the commentaries on the respective question along with Frances’ responses to the commentaries, and my own view of the multiple discussions. In this review I emphasize that the core question is the first – what is the nature of psychiatric illness – and that in some manner all further (...) questions follow from the first. Following this review I attempt to move the discussion forward, addressing the first question from the perspectives of natural kind analysis and complexity analysis. This reflection leads toward a view of psychiatric disorders – and future nosologies – as far more complex and uncertain than we have imagined. (shrink)
Thomas, Bracken, and Timimi (2012) make an important contribution in critiquing the extent to which the profession of psychiatry can be so bureaucratic that patients are treated as problems to be solved in an ‘efficient’ assembly line fashion rather than as individual persons. The trouble with bureaucracies is that they promote a cold and impersonal accounting approach in which critical reflection on purposes is circumvented by decision-making algorithms (Zachar and Bartlett 2009). Psychotherapy treatment manuals definitely satisfy the bureaucratic instinct, and (...) the fifteen-minute medication management session even more so (Harris 2011). Ideally, evidence-based medicine (EBM) should be used to promote the goals of .. (shrink)
Izard’s claim that the term emotion works well as an adjective is closer to B. F. Skinner’s position than is acknowledged. Based on Izard’s survey of scientists, I argue that the lack of consensus on emotion as a unitary construct could be considered to represent the dissolution of emotions. Given that something similar has happened in biology with the dissolution of the unitary gene construct, this development in psychology may not be as problematic as it initially sounds.
We are thankful for the opportunity to reflect more on the difficult problem of the relationship between moral evaluations and the construct of personality disorders in response to the commentaries by Mike Martin and Louis Charland. We begin by emphasizing to readers that this important problem is complicated by the different perspectives of the various disciplines involved, especially, philosophy, psychiatry, and psychology. Incredulity, anger, and dismay are among the reactions we encountered in discussions of these issues, especially with some mental (...) health professionals. Strong reactions on either side of a disciplinary divide occasionally present barriers to a dispassionate discussion of the topic. .. (shrink)
It is argued that Mason and Capitanio (2012) are not clear on what would count as a “basic emotion,” and their reconstruction appears more geared toward emotionality in general. Their notion that species-typical outcome is the criterion of basicness requires making speculative assumptions about what is expected and average. Suggestions about an epigenetic approach to social construction of emotionality are also offered.
I critically analyze Kagan’s claim that in order to advance the science of emotion we should abandon the practice of referring to emotions with common folk psychological names, such as fear and anger. Kagan recommends discovering more homogenous constructs that are segregated by the type of evidence used to infer those constructs. He also argues that variable origins, biological implementations, and psychological and sociocultural contexts may combine to create distinct kinds of emotional states that require distinct names. I acknowledge that (...) such a splitting strategy will provide increased validity, but also claim that atomizing alone may not give us everything we want from a scientific classification. (shrink)
The Contrast Between the nomothetic versus the idiographic was popularized in psychology by Gordon Allport (1937). In the early 1930s, Allport made his name by advocating for a quantitative, trait-based approach to the study of personality in contrast with the prevailing case study approach. In doing so, he was following the trend toward greater reliance on measurement in psychology as a whole. Allport, however, had grave doubts about the sufficiency of quantitative measurement for developing an understanding of individual psychological functioning. (...) The nomothetic versus the idiographic was meant to give voice to these doubts.1 For Allport, the nomothetic referred to the study of populations with the aim .. (shrink)
In this brief commentary, I would like to discuss two reservations I have about the article by Bergner and Bunford. Before doing so let me make some preliminary remarks.Their hypothesis that the concept of disability unites the various mental disorder constructs that have been proposed over the centuries and across cultures is reasonable and accords well with common sense. The concept of disability does a lot of good work in helping us to understand mental disorders.With respect to the authors’ contrast (...) between the disability conception versus the behavioral conception of mental disorder, the notion that counting behaviors alone justifies diagnosing a psychiatric disorder is worth critiquing. Claiming that everyone... (shrink)
Cet article explore la classification des troubles psychiatriques dans la perspective du modèle des espèces pratiques. En nous basant sur certains travaux en philosophie des sciences qui soutiennent que les éléments chimiques et les espèces biologiques ne possèdent pas de véritables essences, nous affirmons que les troubles psychiatriques ne devraient pas être compris, eux non plus, de façon essentialiste. Les troubles psychiatriques sont des « espèces pratiques », non des « espèces naturelles ». Ce modèle représente une approche pragmatiste de (...) la classification qui pose, compte tenu de l’infinie complexité du monde, qu’une multitude de décisions peuvent jouer un rôle légitime dans la définition des limites des catégories. Il s’agit d’une approche nominaliste contemporaine qui considère les concepts et les catégories comme provisoires et partiels, sans toutefois rejeter l’idée qu’ils sont des espèces légitimes. Ce modèle rejette ce que Ian Hacking a nommé le structurisme inhérent, sans pour autant rejeter les espèces. Le modèle des espèces pratiques rejette aussi l’éliminativisme. Il est en accord avec les arguments non essentialistes offerts par les éliminativistes, mais il n’accepte pas leurs conclusions austères. Je discute finalement les complications et les imperfections du modèle.This article explores the classification of psychiatric disorders from the perspective of the practical kinds model. Based on work in the philosophy of science which argues that chemical elements and biological species do not have real essences, it is argued that psychiatric disorders should not be understood essentialistically either. Psychiatric disorders are practical, not natural kinds. This model represents a pragmatist approach to classification which holds that, because the world is so complex, a multitude of decisions can play legitimate roles in defining category boundaries. It is a contemporary nominalistic approach that views concepts and categories as provisional and partial, but does not reject the notion that there are legitimate kinds. It rejects what Ian Hacking has called inherent structurism, but not kinds. The practical kinds model is also anti-eliminativist. It agrees with the non-essentialistic arguments offered by eliminativists, but does not accept their austere conclusions. Complications and shortcomings of the model are discussed. (shrink)
Reply by the current authors to the comments made by Jaak Panksepps , James.A. Russell and Louise Sundararajan on the original article by Peter Zachar . I consider the utility of the concept of natural kind, and explore difficulties in applying it reliably. I examine categorical and dimensional approaches to affect with respect to both scientific realism and nominalist approaches to classification. I agree that eliminativist analogies are beneficial but argue that they cannot fully account for the relationship between folk (...) and scientific psychology. I also claim that neither Panksepp's nor Russell's models are incommensurable with Sundararajn's deeper approach to affective science. I suggest that Panksepp's conclusions about the structure of primary affect may be incompatible with the dimensional model, which illustrates the limits of translational work. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Levels of Analysis in Psychopathology draws research from psychiatry, philosophy, and psychology to explore the variety of explanatory approaches for understanding the nature of psychiatric disorders both in practice and research. The fields of psychiatry and clinical psychology incorporates many useful explanatory approaches and this book integrates this range of perspectives and makes suggestions about how to advance etiologic theories, classification, and treatment. The editors have brought together leading thinkers who have been widely published and are well-respected in their area (...) of expertise, including several developers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and authors of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health's Research Domain Criteria Project. Each main chapter has a commentary provided by one of the other authors and an introduction written by one of the editors to create an accessible, interdisciplinary dialog. (shrink)