Classification of mental disorders

Classification of mental disorderdiagnostic categoriespsychiatric classification systemspsychiatric diagnosisapproachescategories of mental illnessclassificationclassification systemsclassifications of mental disordersclassified
The classification of mental disorders is also known as psychiatric nosology or psychiatric taxonomy.wikipedia
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

The DSM-IV was originally published in 1994 and listed more than 250 mental disorders.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (latest edition, the DSM-5, published in 2013) is a publication for the classification of mental disorders using a common language and standard criteria.

Validity (statistics)

There is a significant scientific debate about the relative validity of a "categorical" versus a "dimensional" approach to classification, as well as significant controversy about the role of science and values in classification schemes and the professional, legal and social uses to which they are put.

Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood

The [[Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood]] (DC:0-3) was first published in 1994 by Zero to Three to classify mental health and developmental disorders in the first four years of life.
It is intended to enhance the understanding of young children by making it possible to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health problems in infants and toddlers by allowing for the identification of disorders not addressed in other classification systems.

Philippe Pinel

PinelPhillipe PinelDr. Pinel Unchaining the Mad
Towards the end of the 18th century and into the 19th, Pinel, influenced by Cullen's scheme, developed his own, again employing the terminology of genera and species.
He also made notable contributions to the classification of mental disorders and has been described by some as "the father of modern psychiatry".


Some approaches to classification do not use categories with single cut-offs separating the ill from the healthy or the abnormal from the normal (a practice sometimes termed "threshold psychiatry" or "dichotomous classification" ).

Medical classification

statistical classificationclassificationWHO Family of International Classifications

Research Domain Criteria

RDoC initiativeResearch Domain Criteria (RDoC)Research of Domain Criteria (RDoC)
The 2008 NIMH Strategic Plan calls for NIMH to “Develop, for research purposes, new ways of classifying mental disorders based on dimensions of observable behavior and neurobiological measures.” The strategic plan continues:

Spectrum disorder

spectrumschizophrenia spectrumpsychotic spectrum
Classification may instead be based on broader underlying "spectra", where each spectrum links together a range of related categorical diagnoses and nonthreshold symptom patterns.
Similarly, in the classification of mental disorders, a dimensional approach, which is being considered for the DSM-V, would involve everyone having a score on personality trait measures.

Mental disorder

mental illnessnervous breakdownmentally ill
The recognition and understanding of mental health conditions have changed over time and across cultures and there are still variations in definition, assessment and classification, although standard guideline criteria are widely used.

Unitary psychosis

(unitary)Einheitspsychosen (unitary psychosis)unitary concept of psychosis
There was a focus on identifying the particular psychological faculty involved in particular forms of insanity, including through phrenology, although some argued for a more central "unitary" cause.
In 1833 he published Traité Des Phrénopathies ou Doctrine Nouvelle des Maladies Mentales in which he proposed a complex system of psychiatric classification encompassing almost a hundred different mental states.


schizophrenicschizophrenicspositive symptoms
Some have been based on theory (overdiagnosis of schizophrenia), some based on etiological (causation) concepts (overdiagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder), and some based on the development of treatments.
In 1893 Emil Kraepelin borrowed the term from Schule and Pick and in 1899 introduced a broad new distinction in the classification of mental disorders between dementia praecox and mood disorder (termed manic depression and including both unipolar and bipolar depression).

Labeling theory

labelLabelling theorylabeled
Questions of validity and utility have been raised, both scientifically and in terms of social, economic and political factors—notably over the inclusion of certain controversial categories, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, or the stigmatizing effect of being categorized or labelled.
It has been claimed that this could not happen if "we" did not have a way to categorize (and therefore label) them, although there are actually plenty of approaches to these phenomena that don't use categorical classifications and diagnostic terms, for example spectrum or continuum models.

Abnormal psychology

abnormalAbnormal psychologistpsychological
There have also been different approaches in trying to classify mental disorders.


a fictional disease that causes slaves to run awayDrapetomia
The diagnosis of drapetomania was also developed in the Southern United States to explain the perceived irrationality of black slaves trying to escape what was thought to be a suitable role.

William C. Menninger

William MenningerWill MenningerWilliam
In 1945, William C. Menninger advanced a classification scheme for the US army, called Medical 203, synthesizing ideas of the time into five major groups.
He chaired the committee which produced document Medical 203, a major revision of existing US classification of mental disorders.

International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems

International Classification of DiseasesICDICD-9
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is an international standard diagnostic classification for a wide variety of health conditions.

Feighner Criteria

The Feighner Criteria group described fourteen major psychiatric disorders for which careful research studies were available, including homosexuality.

Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual

While the Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual has an emphasis on dimensionality and the context of mental problems, it has been structured largely as an adjunct to the categories of the DSM.

Operational definition

operationaloperationally definedoperationally
The widely used DSM and ICD classifications employ operational definitions.

American Psychiatric Association

APAAmerican Medico-Psychological AssociationAmerican Psychiatry Association
It was produced by the American Psychiatric Association and it characterizes mental disorder as "a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual, associated with present distress...or disability...or with a significant increased risk of suffering" but that " definition adequately specifies precise boundaries for the concept of 'mental disorder'...different situations call for different definitions" (APA, 1994 and 2000).