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Psychiatric classification in a wider perspective 

Psychiatric classification in a wider perspective
Psychiatric classification in a wider perspective

John E. Cooper

and Norman Sartorius

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date: 12 November 2018

The generation of numerous proposals for classifications of psychiatric disorders began in the late decades of the 19th Century and continued without interruptions until the second half of the 20th Century. These classifications were based on different principles such as presumed etiology, clinical syndromes, and course and outcome of illness; Stengel’s review for the WHO showed that their diversity made it impossible to compare results of research or develop universally valid recommendations concerning the management of mental disorders. The programme which the World Health Organization started in the 1960s had the aim of developing a classification that would be generally accepted internationally, and would serve as a common language in the field of mental health. Together with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association, it has had an international influence, leading to a significant reduction of the numbers of proposals for national and regional classifications. The current versions of the ICD-10 Chapter V and the DSM-IV of the APA’s lassification are largely similar, and continuing cooperation between those preparing the next versions should ensure that this similarity is not lost. Whether any additional sections are needed to describe ‘culture-specific’ disorders which only occur in particular cultures is not yet known. Special sections are present in both the WHO classification and in DSM-IV to encourage research into this possibility.

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