Evolution of Psychology

I posted something about psychology before, but never got into too much detail about it. I did my presentation today about anxiety disorders and we also talked a little bit about personality disorders. During class we talked about the new DSM-V for mental disorders. The development of this book is particularly interesting to me because it shows how time, people, and society changes our views on mental disorders. It was not long ago that homosexuality was diagnosed as a mental disorder and has now been removed. The reason I find this manual so fascinating is because it looks into the cognitive side of medicine and not focussing on biology alone. I know this is a biology class, but mental disorders and psychotherapy fit into medicine as well.

With the new book out, there has been some new changes that have sparked controversy among the field. One of them is the constantly changing criteria for illnesses, new illnesses added or removed, and just things being reorganized. However, this manual does have to evolve has new information is found and societal views change. Like I stated before, homosexuality was classified as an illness and is now removed. Medicine and medical practices have been updated regularly as new information is found so it stands to reason that the DSM change as well.

I suppose one of the biggest issues with mental disorders are they are hard to define and people have different ideas on causes and who has it and who doesn’t. I believe this statement from NIMH director Thomas Insel said it best:

“The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.”

The proposed definitions for psychiatric disorders in the new manual were too broad and ignore smaller disorders that were lumped in with a larger diagnosis. Although one could argue that pinning down a disorder is hard on it’s own. One person may say you have this, but when you go to someone else, then you get a completely different diagnosis. There are few clear cut lines in mental illness, which is why I believe more research needs to be done. While some may think mental illness like depression are just something you can get over, this is not true and to fully understand it means we must learn more about illnesses and maybe improve the DSM to help with diagnosis.


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