Prognosis and treatment
- Diagnosis helps to predict the prognosis, therefore allowing you to choose the appropriate treatment.
- Classification systems aid understanding of possible causes of mental disorders, and indicate preventative measures.
- Easier for professionals of psychopathology to communicate with each other. (e.g classifiying a disease such as 'depression' gives a lot of information about the patient, so you know what to expect.
- Critics say diagnostic categories distract from understanding person as unique human with individual set of difficulties. Can lead to stigmatizing individual as dangerous or unemployable
- Culture determines how a disorder is expressed. Western based classification systems may lack validity in a different cultural context
Reductionist & Deterministic
- Some challenge dominance and assumptions of medical approach. Professor Ssaz for example believes the 'myth of mental illness' encourages us to pathologise normality.
David Rosenhan ' being sane in insane places' (197
Aim: Investigate whether psychiatrists can distinguish between sane or insane people.
Procedure: In part 1, 8 (sane)pseudo-patients attempted to gain admission into 12 hospitals across USA.
Upon arriving at admissions office they complained of hearing voices saying 'empty, 'hollow', 'thud'. Apart from their names and jobs, other life details given were true.
After admittance, they stopped simulating symptoms of abnormality. Conducted themselves normally around ward,conversed with staff and patients.When asked by staff how they felt, they reported they were fine and no longer experienced symptoms. Each pseudo patient told tey would have to convince staff they were sane. Hospitalised for average of 19 days.
'being sane in insane places continued....'
In part 2, staff of teaching and research hospital, who were aware of first study, were falsely informed that some pseudo patients would attempt to gain admittance during next three months. Asked to rate on a 10 point scale each new patient as to the liklihood of them being a pseudo patient.
Findings: In part 1 of the study none of the pseudo-patients were detected. And all but one were admitted with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, eventually discahrged with 'Schizophrenia in remission'. Worryingly many of the other patients suspected their sanity.
Conclusion: Study demonstartes that psychiatrists cannot reliably distinguish between sane and insane people. Highlights a main problem with diagnosing mental disorders, as diagnosis relies on one's self-report, not physical evidence.
Evaluation of Rosenhan's Study
Field Study: The study was consucted in real settings ( 12 hospitals) therefore increasing the validity of the findings.
Dated: May lack temporal valisity as it was conducted over 30 years ago and diagnostical systems have changed.