Alternatives to Psychiatric Diagnosis?


Is there an alternative to the current, dominant way of making psychiatric diagnoses? If so, what would it look like? On his Critical Psychiatry blog, Duncan Double raises these questions and posts to freely-accessible versions of both a commentary about the topic in the Lancet by Mary Boyle and Lucy Johnstone as well as a Lancet letter retort to it.

Psychiatric diagnostic uncertainty (Critical Psychiatry, October 18, 2014)


  1. Comments on this article from the borderline article by Brent Potter et al on MIA:

    John Hoggett on October 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm said:

    clearest thing I’ve read all week.

    The only thing I’d add is that Lucy Johnstone’s article on alternatives to diagnosis, on this website, proposes Formulation, which simply involves asking people what thier problems are, what caused them and what might help. This is then agreed between the patient and the professional. It highlights and puts at the core of any professional work the person who is distressed voice and is no more than what anyone should do when trying to help someone who is distessed.

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    Brent Potter (MIA Author)on October 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm said:

    Glad you liked it, John. I appreciate too your mention of Lucy’s piece. That is the way to go, at least in my opinion. There’s absolutely no reason to have labels whatsoever. It is entirely possible to simply stick with someone’s own description of where he or she is ‘at’ and what he or she is asking for. This and similar avenues are what I try to present towards the end of the book. I am grateful to a number of different non-psychiatric organizations for allowing me to publish them as resources. Anyway, thanks again!

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  2. Psychiatric diagnosis are not helpful – in fact there’s good evidence that they are harmful (e.g. telling people the “chemical imbalance” fairytale may exacerbate their symptoms) ad are such a mess that even researchers are fed up with them (mostly because they realised they’re chasing non-existing disorders).

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