Psychiatry & Psychology--General/psychology


As far as I know both DSM-5 and ICD-10 are manuals that only speak of diagnosis. My question is, why is it so important to focus on diagnosis and labeling people? Isn't it more important to focus on people's actual problems, how to actually help them?

ANSWER: Hi!  Yes, diagnostic manuals speak of diagnosis. Why? Let me put it this way.

Andrew's at the hospital because of a stomach pain.  The doctors tell him, "After our tests and procedures, we ruled out tumors, muscle spasm, indigestion, food poisoning, and referred pain. Having diagnosed appendicitis, we treat with antibiotics and surgery."

Would Andrew reply, "Never mind that; focus on my actual problem in order to actually help me"?


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well, you do have a point!
But people, professionals, could actually help before having DSM or ICD. Don't you think?

If I may continue the medical analogy, yes, you try to make the patient comfortable, but you ordinarily don't try to set the possibly broken bone until you have the X-rays. For the stomach pain you could certainly administer reassurance and perhaps analgesics. But the pain could be from hunger, ulcer, or appendicitis, whereupon food would help, could help or harm depending on the kind, and could seriously harm.

With psychological/psychiatric conditions, attempts to help could again be counterproductive in the absence of diagnosis. Trying to offer support could backfire if you don't know the client is paranoid. Trying logic could be futile if you haven't diagnosed the schizophrenia. Offering promises could lead to disaster before you learn that the patient is a malingerer or psychopath.


Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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