Define Mental Illness

In the article “Inside the Battle to Define Mental illness”, written by Gary Greenberg (2010). The author utilized a subjective approach to outline his beliefs regarding the definition of Mental illness and the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostics and Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders, or DSM. Greenberg provides the readers with the pros and cons of the DSM, the ultimate book of rules for psychiatry, used to determine diagnosis and treatment for clients.

Greenberg interviews Allen Frances, the editor of the American Psychiatric Associations DSM IV. Frances explains that even though the DSM is the foundation that psychiatrist use to assign specific diagnosis to their clients, he argues that the range of concepts that should be used to determine mental disorders is actually much more complicated and difficult to clearly define. Frances questions the DSM’s method of descriptive diagnosis, which evaluates each person’s unique symptoms against a predetermined checklist to assign the diagnosis of a mental illness. Frances believes that this process has led to several errors in diagnosing clients.

Frances also alleges referenced that the APA is too closely financially linked to pharmaceutical companies that stand to gain profit from certain mental illnesses. For example he cites a 2007 investigative report that revealing that the psychiatrist Joseph Biderman of Harvard, famous for promoting the diagnosis of bipolar disorders among children, failed to disclose that he had received money from Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Risperdal, one of the main drugs for treating bipolar disorders. In addition, Frances reports that pharmaceutical companies were linked to APA training programs and made large financial contributions as well.

Greenberg also points out in his article that although many mental health professionals have found discrepancies with the DSM IV, they have refrained from revealing these errors to avoid ridicule for lacking knowledge in...