Is there another way to diagnose mental disorders?

Posted on July 9, 2018

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) is used by psychologists to diagnose people with mental disorders. One limitation of using the DSM V for diagnosis is the fact that it is categorical, and does not consider mental disorders as a spectrum, resulting in a lot of stigma. Labeling someone with depression, or OCD, or any other mental disorder emphasizes on the symptoms, and disregards the normal traits of the person.

Nevertheless, the DSM is a useful tool for psychologists to identify the problem and come up with treatments for their clients.

In 2000, psychologists Peterson and Seligman decided to find another method of diagnosis that was less stigmatizing than the DSM. Peterson and Seligman proposed a Values in Action (VIA) classification system, which emphasizes on 24 character strengths that exist globally. These strengths include creativity, curiosity, good judgment, bravery, kindness, and hope. This VIA system is less stigmatizing as it considers a spectrum of a trait. It emphasizes on universal strengths rather than abnormal symptoms. For example, "good judgement" is a strength that falls between gullibility and cynicism, which are extreme ends of the spectrum.

Peterson believes that a psychologist should not focus on reaching a diagnosis, but focus on the character strengths spectrum.


Category(s):Health / Illness / Medical Issues

Source material from Psychology Today


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