Against diagnostic checklists

Nancy Andreasen, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, says her profession have become overly dependent on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the industry’s diagnostic bible that’s now in its fourth edition, and which Andreasen helped write an earlier version of.

Speaking to New Scientist magazine, Andreasen says the book was never meant to be “the absolute truth” and that there’s a tendency in psychiatry today to “make diagnosis through checklists, with less emphasis on the interesting uniqueness of each individual patient and on the humanism that lay at the heart of early psychiatry”.

Citing the example of schizophrenia, Andreasen says that following the recommendations of a working party she chaired, DSM IV keeps things simple and lists 8 general symptoms for the illness. But she says “This is not a complete description. You have to know much more than just those DSM criteria before a patient can be reliably diagnosed”.

Link to New Sci interview (requires subscription).
Link to Critical Psychiatry Network

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