BOOK: In A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis consultant clinical psychologist Dr. Lucy Johnstone looks at some key ideas behind modern psychology and finds them wanting. The two main diagnostic manuals are the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition published in 2013) the American ‘bible’ produced by the American Psychiatric Association diagnosing signs and symptoms of mental disorders, and the ICD-10, the tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases produced by the World Health Organisation. She says that the authors of these diagnostic manuals are admitting that psychiatric diagnoses are not supported by evidence.
In fact, so far from a sound medical basis is DSM-5 that the National Institutes for Health in the US, the largest funders of research, have stopped funding any research based on it. They want proposals based as far as possible on biological markers.
By taking a more careful approach to psychological formulation, part of the core training of a clinical psychologist…
“a psychologist and a service user, together can create a theory or ‘best guess’ about the origins of the difficulties that has brought a person into services. The formulation is made up of the psychologist’s clinical and research knowledge- for example, evidence about the possible effects of trauma or neglect or abuse- and the service user’s expertise in their own life…the core of the formulation is working out the particular meaning of these events for contexts to you as an individual.” (p. 78)
This is a valuable book, worthwhile for both professionals and general readers interested in mental health diagnosis.
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