The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

Essay by UmmmHuhUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2008

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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has come a long way since 1952. The first manual only had 66 disorders listed, compared to today's 400 disorders, which is a significant increase. The DSM is the manual/handbook used in diagnosing mental disorders. In the beginnings of the manual some scientific basis was credited to Kraepelin, who believed that psychiatric disorders were caused from biological and genetic factors. Freud's interpretations greatly influenced Kraepelin. Therefore, mental disorders were attributed to physical conditions. Another influence was Szasz's belief that mental illness is a value judgment, which can be formed or derived from contemporary society. So what one person think is a norm may not be accepted by society as a norm (Argosy University, 2008).

The medical model embodies an approach to matters of mental health, which combines facets of science and biology. The medical model has strengths and boundaries, which should be assessed within each case.

Therefore, the medical model is open to suggestion and can be subject to change in theory (Grobstein & Cyckowski, 2006). The first two editions of the DSM were influenced by the psychodynamic approach. The manuals suggested that all disorders were caused by environmental occurrences. Since it was based on behavior, everyone holds the potential to being abnormal. They also define the difference between psychosis and neurosis. Psychosis holds severity in the disorder (i.e. hallucinations, delusional). Neurosis includes anxiety and depression (Schafer & Bloom, 2006).

The DSM-III got rid of the psychodynamic view and adopted the medical model as the approach, separating the normal and abnormal clearly. It was more "atheoretical" (without theory or origin of concept). Revisions continued and today's DSM-IV-TR (text revision) was published in 2000. DSM-V should make its debut in 2010 (Schafer & Bloom, 2006).


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