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From a review of Prescriptions for the Mind: A Critical View of Contemporary Psychiatry, by Joel Paris:

Psychiatry’s handbook of mental disorders, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ( DSM ), is an obvious locus for skepticism. On the one hand, given the confusion about terminology before 1980, the DSM-III and DSM-IV at least provide a common language so that psychiatrists can better communicate with each other and with insurance companies. On the other hand, diagnostic categories are so “irredeemably fuzzy” and broadly defined that psychiatrists end up confusing “the human condition” with pathology. Consequently, prevalence rates have at times risen absurdly. Here is Paris at his best: “Perhaps the main reason for the large number of diagnoses in psychiatry is that we do not understand any of them.”

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