Classifications in Psychiatry: A Conceptual History∗

  title={Classifications in Psychiatry: A Conceptual History∗},
  author={Germ{\'a}n E. Berr{\'i}os},
  journal={Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry},
  pages={145 - 160}
  • G. Berríos
  • Published 1 April 1999
  • Psychology
  • Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Background: Historical accounts of psychiatric classifications have hitherto been written in terms of a ‘received view’. This contains two assumptions, that: (i) the activity of classifying is inherent to the human mind; and (ii) psychiatric ‘phenomena’ are stable natural objects. Objectives: The aim of this article is to provide an outline of the evolution of psychiatric classifications from the perspective of conceptual history. This is defined as a theoretical and empirical inquiry into the… 
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  • 2019
Developed along an extraordinarily creative life, Rom Harre’s views on both the natural and social sciences can also illuminate the problems of Psychiatry. Constructed during the early 19th century,
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Evidence from multiple lines of research converges to indicate that current classifications contain excessively large numbers of categories of limited validity and psychiatric research should discard the assumption that current classification is valid.


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It is shown that the nature of the debate between 'unitarians' and those who believed in the existence of separate diseases has changed throughout time, and that to these changes national differences have been important.
Classification of mental disorder as a collection of hypothetical constructs.
  • L. Morey
  • Psychology
    Journal of abnormal psychology
  • 1991
It is proposed that a taxonomic construct must be embedded in a theory that provides some meaningful context for the construct and that falsification of such theories constitutes the primary enterprise of taxonomic research.
Psychiatric Classification and Empiricist Theories of Meaning
  • H. Malmgren
  • Psychology, Philosophy
    Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica. Supplementum
  • 1993
It is argued that the newer empiricist and realist theories of meaning developed after 1960, particularly the idea of an indirect specification of meaning through contingent operational criteria, offer a better foundation for psychiatric classification.
Taximetric strategies applied to psychiatric classification.
Limits inherent in using unilevel behavioral descriptors as the basis for the construction of psychiatric classifications are discussed and the advantages of the polythetic classification strategy as suggested by Sokal and Sneath (1963) are considered.
The French Approach to Psychiatric Classification
  • P. Pichot
  • Medicine, Psychology
    British Journal of Psychiatry
  • 1984
Pinel's essential achievement was the creation of the 19th-century French tradition in psychiatry, encompassing the medical, clinical, descriptive and nosological fields.
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This metaphorical analysis of classifications as tests suggests that certain issues that have been discussed in regard to psychological tests, particularly reliability and validity, may require modification when applied to psychiatric classification.
Psychiatric classification as a reflection of uncertainties
It is suggested that the existing pool of information used for psychiatric description may be a reflection of these uncertainties and shall be analysed for core‐syndromes which are the reliable components of an alternative classification.
Current trends in the methodology of classification.
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