I came across this great post at the Mind Hacks blog by Vaughan Bell, which is about how we talk about psychiatric diseases, their diagnosis and criticising their nature.
Debating the validity of diagnoses is a good thing. In fact, it’s essential we do it. Lots of DSM diagnoses, as I’ve argued before, poorly predict outcome, and sometimes barely hang together conceptually. But there is no general criticism that applies to all psychiatric diagnosis.
His final paragraph touches something which I also discuss in my course on Psychological Assessment and Decisions:
Finally, I think we’d be better off if we treated diagnoses more like tools, and less like ideologies. They may be more or less helpful in different situations, and at different times, and for different people, and we should strive to ensure a range of options are available to people who need them, both diagnostic and non-diagnostic.
Diagnoses are a man-made concept that can be helpful in order to make decisions and study the subject. Vaughan makes a great case for how this is true for both mental and somatic conditions.