DSM etc

CSU (csu@brain.wph.uq.oz.au)
20 Sep 1995 13:16:03 -0500

Some lateral thinking: For some reason I was wondering whether
anyone has done research into construing amongst members of
communities where individual differences are discouraged. The
types of communities I was thinking of were closed religious
groups or indigenous tribal groups. In Kellian terms diversity
in construing the world would still be possible within such

How major differences in behaviour/construing are tolerated in
such communities has relevance to the discussion of the DSM, in
that the DSM is a manual for construing certain behaviours in
prescribed ways. Many of these behaviours may also be construed as
"disturbed" or "unwanted" by either the experiencing individual
or society.

Two key problems I see with DSM are: 1)the medicalisation of
behaviour and 2) the consequences of labelling behaviour in DSM
terms. Schizophrenia may be a useful construct to apply to some
behaviour, however for many professionals this term is imbued
with a whole set of other assumptions and consequences which
obscure individual uniqueness. Diagnostic constructs can be
construed as representations. Unfortunately instead of being
treated as a representation such constructs are assumed to have
reality of their own. Diagnostic labels can also obscure the
underlying human being, i.e the person is the diagnosis, rather
than viewing a diagnosis as a conceptual label which may or may
not have usefulness.

To me the vital question remains how can individuals/society
humanely respond to persons construed as exhibiting unwanted
behaviour. If alternatives are to be developed to the current
medically oriented approaches the issue of response is
central. This is not to minimise the importance of alternative
conceptualisation, rather the worth of alternative approaches will
be measured by their outcome/effectiveness/usefulness. For example,
working with persons who exhibit behaviours based on persecutory
belief systems etc, is easier said than done.


Bob Green