The Classification System Of Mental Health Disorders

2431 Words10 Pages
The classification system of mental health disorders is the foundation for diagnosis, assessment, intervention, and research. The necessity that this classification system provides a empirically-supported framework for the conceptualization of mental health disorders cannot be overstated. Currently, mental health fields around the world rely primarily on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5; APA, 2013) and the International Classification of Diseases 10th Edition (ICD-10; WHO, 1992), with providers from Western countries like the United States relying almost exclusively on the DSM-5. The DSM-5 and its previous editions were constructed using a categorical approach to the classification of mental…show more content…
The objective of this paper is to describe the transition from a categorical approach to a dimensional approach to the classification of mental health disorders. First, this paper will describe the DSM’s traditional categorical approach and discuss the major criticisms to this approach. Second, this paper will discuss ways in which a dimensional approach exists in the DSM-5. Lastly, this paper will describe RDoC as a response to the failures of the categorical approach, and explain how RDoC has led to a change in psychopathology research. The Traditional Categorical Approach Prior to DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association was very clear that the DSM “is a categorical classification that divides mental disorders into types based on criterion sets with defining features,” (APA, 2000). Specifically, the developers of the DSM conceptualized mental health disorders as polythetic, meaning there are specific features that comprise each disorder, but these features are neither necessary nor sufficient (Carragher, Krueger, Eaton, & Slade, 2015; Widiger, & Trull, 2007). The underlying assumptions are that a mental health disorder is caused by a specific pathology, and a category, or prototype can represent a qualitative distinction between normality and abnormality. It is intended that clinicians use the DSM to determine which disorder best explains a patient’s symptoms based on the given diagnostic criteria, which represent an operational
Open Document