The DSM-IV is more a reliable descriptive nomenclature than a valid classification of diseases
The Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, third edition (DSM-III), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, sought to define psychiatric syndromes in a way that increased the reliability of psychiatric terminology and diagnoses between practitioners and nations. The DSM-III’s introduction cautioned that, with regard to aetiology, it was a “generally atheoretical” document. The subsequent edition, the DSM-IV, published in 1994, went further, and cautioned specifically against diagnoses being applied in a “cookbook” fashion. Despite these warnings, conversion of the description of psychiatric disorders to discrete disease entities has not only occurred but, I believe, has also become problematic. Here, I present an allegory of a boy with “cough disorder” to illustrate.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.