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Reflections on what is normal, what is not, and fuzzy boundaries in psychiatric classifications 

Reflections on what is normal, what is not, and fuzzy boundaries in psychiatric classifications
Chapter:
Reflections on what is normal, what is not, and fuzzy boundaries in psychiatric classifications
Source:
Vagueness in Psychiatry
Author(s):

Lara Keuck

and Allen Frances

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198722373.003.0008

This chapter takes the need to save ‘normal’ and avoid diagnostic inflation as a point of departure to reflect on what is normal, what is not, and what is in-between. It argues that ‘normal’ is a fallible and vulnerable comparative class to define mental disorders. Mental disorders must be distinguished from behaviours and mental states that reflect individual difference but not clinically significant psychopathology. Risk conditions, mild symptoms, and prodromal stages signify that a person is not yet or not severely diseased. Such notions of unclear cases and in-between states exhibit both vagueness and ambiguity. These considerations are used to suggest ways of limiting the (mis)uses of DSM in fields other than clinical psychiatry.

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