Labelling and Psychiatric Diagnosis

Topics: Psychiatry, Human rights, Mental disorder Pages: 7 (2589 words) Published: November 17, 2006
Should People Be Labeled With a Psychiatric Diagnosis?
II. Thesis Statement
Throughout this paper, issues will be discussed regarding the question of whether labels should be placed on the people who have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. I believe that the current methods of classifying and identifying these individuals does not have the patients bests interests in mind, partly due to the negative stigmas that come hand in hand with the label. I find that aside from the benefits that systems such as the DSM provide for a patient, it can place many negative stereotypes; compromising ones dignity as well effecting his/her family. This paper will provide arguments proving that the labels placed on oneself can be horrifically damaging to many aspects of life. III. Historical Context

When 19th century medicine had reached a point where people were discovering that different ailments require different treatments, people in the field of studying abnormal behavior began to take notice of their classification. The result was a primitive system of classifying the known abnormalities in human behavior and illness. This would help the professionals trying to diagnose and treat individuals suffering from an illness, to organize ideas. If one professional discovered an effective treatment for an illness, a universal classification would allow others to recognize the treatment for the particular illness (Davison, Neale, Blankstein, Flett, 2001). These first attempts were met with much confusion, little organization and a lot of inconsistencies.

The first strong effort at a classification system that could be universally accepted was by the Statistical Committee of the Royal Medico-Psychological Association, based out of the United Kingdom. Much effort was placed into the system but it could not gain the support of the members. More efforts were made in the following two decades by the Congress of Mental Science in Paris and by the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane. Although these met little success, progression was still made toward perfecting a classification system. The major efforts in the 20th century were put forth by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and its successive versions, by the American Psychiatric Association have emerged over the last 50+ years as a North American referencing tool when it comes to diagnosing mental illness. The most recent version, the DSM IV, is becoming more and more acknowledged throughout world. Since before I or anyone else can likely remember, individuals have been discriminated with stereotypes, negative labels and unfair biases because they themselves are considered "different" from the norm. Psychiatric diagnosed individuals clearly fall into this category, with schizophrenics, the depressed, mentally ill and many more undoubtedly facing stigmatization. Phelan, Link, Stueve, and Pescosolido (2000, as cited in Davison et al.) observed from a consensus that the number of people labeled mentally that are viewed as being violent, frightful people has increased by 2.5 times between 1950 and 1996. IV. Central Issue

We live in a technologically advanced day and age, where medical knowledge is rapidly helping us ease the anguish of the sick. With new discoveries occurring regularly in the field of disease and diagnosis, the professionals of these fields find it exceedingly important for proper classification. This allows for better care and less room for error when treating a patient. However, living in a time where image and status can mean everything, adding a diagnostic label to a sufferer may not only add unnecessary emotional pain, but also create more barriers to living a normal life. No one can deny the fact that we live in a very cynical world. Several studies that will be discussed later in this paper will also show how...

References: Chamberlin, J., (1997) . Citizen Rights and Psychiatric Disability. Psychiatric
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Hasui, C., Sakamoto, S., Sugiura, T., & Kitamura, T. (2000). Stigmatization of mental
illness in Japan: images and frequency of encounters with diagnostic categories of
Benson, R.J., (2002). The influences of biases against the schizophrenia diagnostic label
in social skills assessment
Holguin, G., (2002). Professionals ' Expectancies Related to Child and Adolescent Sexual
Abuse: An Investigation of Labeling Effects
Benjet, C., Azar, S., Kuersten-Hogan, R., (2003)
Davison, D.C., Neale, M., Blankstein, K.R., & Flett, G.L., (2002). Abnormal Psychology:
Canadian Edition
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