• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss issues of bias in diagnostic systems

Extracts from this document...


Discuss issues of bias in diagnostic systems If we consider abnormality as deviating from the norm, then what would we consider being ?normal?? Certain behaviours are expected from us at certain times and in certain situations, and if those expectations are not met, then the behaviour and the person may be judged as being ?bad? or ?sick?. This is the issue with diagnosing abnormality, what may be considered normal to one person, may be consider abnormal to others. Will there always be bias when diagnosing abnormality, as there is not a clear definition of what ?normal? really is? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) group?s disorders into categories and then offers specific guidance to psychiatrists by listing the symptoms required for a diagnosis to be given. The DSM assumes that all symptoms can be grouped together to form a specific mental disorder. It lists around 400 disorders including clinical depression. However, there are problems with these two classification systems. Diagnosis is the process of identifying a disease and allocating it to a category on the basis of symptoms and signs. Any system of classification will be of little value unless psychiatrists can agree with on another when trying to reach a diagnosis and so they can have inter-judge reliability. Another problem is that they are reductionist as they are based on medical/biological models, and they assume that illness can be identified by a set of specific symptoms. ...read more.


A major issue with psychiatric diagnosis is that they result in labelling. For instance, a person becomes a ?schizophrenic? rather than a person with schizophrenia, a label that tends to stick even when the disorder has disappeared. An invalid psychiatric diagnosis has serious and lifelong implications. For this reason, many critics prefer to avoid the use of such labels. An alternative is to use a more ideographic approach that doesn?t require classification but emphasis analysing each patient?s problems individually. Different parts of the world and different ethnic groups have different ways of explaining their behaviour. It must be asked whether the DSM criteria are valid beyond the culture they were created in. Cooper (1994) has suggested that social consequences should be included when defining features of a disorder, since the social environment of individuals varies so widely between cultures. This is because the same symptoms and behaviour that are tolerated in one culture may cause severe social problems in another culture, and it is unreliable for diagnostic decisions to be determined by cultural and social definitions. Different societies have different views about the causes of mental disorders, and therefore, are likely to have different views about treatment. Certain cultural and subcultural groups are treated differently. For example, Cochrane and Sashidharan (1995) found that black Afro-Caribbean immigrants in the UK are up to seven times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia then white people. In terms of subcultural bias, Johnstone (1989) ...read more.


In diagnostic systems, there may be apparent cultural bias. Systems such as the DSM may not consider that in some cultures what is considered normal may be considered abnormal in others. Therefore, If an individual from one culture were living in a society that had a different culture, they may be labelled as abnormal and start to think they actually have an illness. Can the DSM generalise across the world? It raises issues that there are a lot of wrong diagnoses due to the systems only relating to one type of culture, if perhaps the systems could generalise across the world and take into consideration ethnicity, race, religion etc. then there may be less ?cultural bias?. In terms of gender bias, it seems that in mental illnesses such as depression, a lot more women seem to be diagnosed. A common explanation for this would be that perhaps women suffer more from the condition due to having children. However, there is no evidence of a difference between men and women psychologically, e.g. men being stronger psychologically than women, this again may just be labelling. It should be taken into consideration that perhaps the reason for the high rates of diagnosis with women having depression, may just be down the fact they are open to speak to people about the problem, and men may be more likely to ?hide? away from the problem. Realistically, there may be just as many men suffering with the same conditions as women. Systems need to consider all factors, and not just diagnose on a set of symptoms or just assume that someone is depressed because they are ?unhappy?. Charlotte Barrow ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level The Psychology of Individual Differences essays

  1. Outline and Evaluate the Biological, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Explanations of Abnormality

    responding to them - and they find internal fault in order to explain the event - such as believing they are being ignored as they are a bad person. With rational thinking the event could be explained by the other person not hearing them, or perhaps feeling ill.

  2. Eating disorders

    more likely to have been compliant to family pre-disorder * More likely to have been in conflict with family pre-disorder Biological Explanations of Anorexia Nervosa Twin and Family studies, such as the study by Holland ET AL., (1988) indicate that Anorexia is caused by inherited (genetic factors). Gorwood ET AL.

  1. Consider the Problems Faced by Psychologists in the Definition of Abnormality

    person drastically deviates from expectations and their own idiosyncrasies friends or family are able to see that there is an underlying problem. However, encouragement may then be needed in order to ensure the person asks for the appropriate psychological help.

  2. Describe and evaluate the concepts of abnormal behaviour When we talk about abnormal behaviour ...

    In order to help with this diagnosis Rosenhan and Seligman came up with 7 elements, characteristics, of abnormal behaviour. The general rule is that if there is only one characteristic observed in your behaviour you would not be considered abnormal.

  1. Describe two research studies into the causes of schizophrenia. Evaluate them in terms of ...

    fact that a contradiction has occurred, i.e., the child is unable to metacommunicate (Bateson et al., 1956). The symptomatology of schizophrenia, it is argued, reflects the accommodation of the individual to a prolonged exposure to such interactions. Once 'victims' have learned to perceive their universe in terms of contradictory environmental

  2. Free essay

    Discuss the range of methods available to the psychologist.

    Researchers look for a group of people who share a set of characteristics, for e.g. Retired females in Worcestershire. This is called a Target Population. A representative sample (group of people) is then taken from the target population, as the target population is usually too big to use as a sample.

  1. The contents of this essay will explain different psychological approaches to health and social ...

    (Gross, 1991) Two key metatheories which exist within the field of psychology are the Biological perspective and the Behavioural perspective. Whilst both of these approaches attempt to answer the same essential questions that exist throughout psychology, they are fundamentally different in their delivery and methodology, although some similarities do exist.

  2. Discuss issues relating to the classification and diagnosis of schizophrenia

    Whaley supports the idea of DSM having low reliability as they found inter-rater reliability correlations in the diagnosis of schizophrenia as low as +.11. The unreliability of diagnosis is further demonstrated by Rosenhan when he carried out an experiment, arranging for ?pseudo patients? to present themselves to psychiatric hospitals claiming to be hearing voices.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work