I’ve written an article for the Discover Magazine’s blog The Crux on what the DSM diagnostic manual is supposed to do.
This is quite an interesting question when you think about it. In other words, it asks – how do we define mental illness – both in theory and in practice?
The article tackles how you decide what a mental illness is in the first place and then how you go about classifying mental states that, by definition, can only be experienced by one person. It turns out, classifying mental illness is a lot like classifying literature.
It also discusses the old and possibly futile quest for ‘biological tests for mental illness’ as if there is a perfect mapping between how we classify mental states and how the brain actually works at the neurobiological level.
So if you want to know the thinking and, indeed, problems behind one of the central and often unquestioned assumptions of psychiatry, this should be a good place to start.