Phenomenological Psychopathology and Psychiatric Classification

In Giovanni Stanghellini, Matthew Broome, Anthony Vincent Fernandez, Paolo Fusar-Poli, Andrea Raballo & René Rosfort (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Phenomenological Psychopathology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1016-1030 (2018)
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In this chapter, I provide an overview of phenomenological approaches to psychiatric classification. My aim is to encourage and facilitate philosophical debate over the best ways to classify psychiatric disorders. First, I articulate phenomenological critiques of the dominant approach to classification and diagnosis—i.e., the operational approach employed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). Second, I describe the type or typification approach to psychiatric classification, which I distinguish into three different versions: ideal types, essential types, and prototypes. I argue that despite their occasional conflation in the contemporary literature, there are important distinctions among these approaches. Third, I outline a new phenomenological-dimensional approach. I show how this approach, which starts from basic dimensions of human existence, allows us to investigate the full range of psychopathological conditions without accepting the validity of current diagnostic categories.

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Anthony Vincent Fernandez
University of Southern Denmark


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