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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using classificatory systems in mental illness.

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  • Essay length: 1689 words
  • Submitted: 19/06/2006
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University Degree Clinical Psychology

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Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using classificatory systems in mental illness.

Although mental illness ("a level of functioning which is not socially acceptable or not personally satisfying" - Boehm, 1972) has as old a history as physical illness, it is only relatively recently that it has been classified: Kraeplin devised the first classification scheme in the 19th Century, with the concept that some syndromes have features in common. Classification has recently been defined rather well as 'the process of reducing the complexity of phenomena by arranging them into categories according to some established criteria for one or more purposes' (Spitzer and Wilson, 1975). However, despite their practical usefulness, or even necessity, classificatory systems have come in for much criticism, most particularly due to their apparent unreliability. Although the evidence seems to be massed against classification, it will become apparent that it is not the concept of classification that is at fault, but its mode of practice.

There are seven basic categories for classification, on which most systems are based:

mental retardation

personality disorder

mental disorder

adjustment disorder

other disorders

developmental disorders

specific childhood disorders

The two main system

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