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Clinical, Professional Practice

Classification of behaviour and experience in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses: Time for a paradigm shift

The current classification systems of DSM and ICD have conceptual and empirical limitations, so there is a need for a paradigm shift.

18 May 2013

The Division of Clinical Psychology is of the view that it is timely and appropriate to affirm publicly that the current classification system as outlined in DSM and ICD, in respect of the functional psychiatric diagnoses, has significant conceptual and empirical limitations. Consequently, there is a need for a paradigm shift in relation to the experiences that these diagnoses refer to, towards a conceptual system which is no longer based on a ‘disease’ model. Classification is fundamental in medicine. The development and use of classification systems for psychological distress and behaviour has never been free of controversy. Many of the issues that arise in relation to psychiatric diagnosis stem from applying physical disease models and medical classification to the realms of thoughts, feelings and behaviours, as implied by terms such as ‘symptoms’ and ‘mental illness’ or ‘psychiatric disease’.

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