Developing the Classification System of Disorders

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Social Misuse of Diagnosis: Pathologizing Marginalized Populations: Renee Anderson, PhD


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Social Misuse of Diagnosis: Pathologizing Marginalized Populations: Renee Anderson, PhD Program Transcript

RENEE ANDERSON: Hi, I’m Dr. Anderson. I’m a licensed professional clinical counselor and I’ve been practicing for over 14 years. During this time, I’ve used a couple of the DSMs. I use the current DSM 5, and I’ve used the previous version, the DSM-IV-TR. And while the DSM is a great tool, it needs to be used with cautionary measure and viewed within the context of social norms and current times.

Some diagnoses have pathologized certain groups of people. Certain marginalized groups of people. For example, historically, homosexuality was listed as a diagnosis which pathologized people who identify as gay and lesbian. In today’s DSM 5, there’s is a diagnosis called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which pathologizes women and women’s natural biological processes.

The diagnosis implies that women should be able to control the hormone and chemical production and levels in their bodies. Another diagnosis is gender dysphoric disorder which can pathologize transgender people. For example, I had a client in the prison who was a transgender female to male. He had been taking hormones for years, he had identified as male, he looked male. For all intents and purposes, he was male.

However, the prison’s medical department formulary didn’t cover hormones. So he needed that diagnosis so that he could receive his hormone medication while in prison. While the DSM might have some diagnoses that pathologized people, it can also do some good, like getting that person, my client, the hormone medication. Also, because the DSM works under a medical model, we need to provide a diagnosis in order to be reimbursed for treatment.

For example, could you imagine if a medical doctor was treating a patient for weeks, or months, or even years without having diagnosed the problem? That medical doctor’s license would probably be called into question. We often need a diagnosis. We need to identify the problem in order to provide a solid treatment plan in order to find a good direction for treatment. With all of that being said, I just want to emphasize that it’s just important to view the DSM through a social context and with measured caution.


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Social Misuse of Diagnosis: Pathologizing Marginalized Populations: Renee Anderson, PhD


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Social Misuse of Diagnosis: Pathologizing Marginalized Populations: Renee Anderson, PhD


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ou to write professionally, which means APA format, complete sentences, proper paragraphs, and well-organized and well-documented presentation of ideas. Remember to use scholarly research from peer-reviewed articles that is current. Sources such as Wikipedia,, PsychCentral, and similar sites are never acceptable. Please follow the instructions to get full credit for the discussion. I need this completed by 09/07/20 at 5pm.

Discussion – Week 2

Developing the Classification System of Disorders

If you were to give a box of 100 different photographs to 10 people and ask them to sort them into groups, it is very unlikely that all 10 people will sort them into the exact same groups. However, if you were to give them a series of questions or a classification system to use, the chances that all 10 people sort them exactly the same increases depending on the specificity of the system and the knowledge of those sorting the implements.

This is not unlike what has occurred in the process of classifying mental disorders. A system that provides enough specificity to appropriately classify a large variety of mental disorders while also attempting to include all of the possible symptoms, many of which can change over time, is a daunting task when used by a variety of specialists, doctors, and other professionals with varied experience, cultures, expertise, and beliefs. The DSM has undergone many transformations since it was first published in 1952. Many of these changes occurred because the uses for the DSM changed. However, the greatest changes began with the use of extensive empirical research to guide the creation of the classification system and its continued revisions.

In this Discussion, you will explore the development history of the DSM system. In addition, you will consider the impact the classification system has had on diagnosed populations.

To prepare for the Discussion:

· Review this week’s Learning Resources.

· Consider how the APA developed the classification system of disorders for the DSM.

· From a historical perspective, consider whether the diagnosis of mental health disorders has led to better outcomes or marginalization of diagnosed populations.

By Day 3

Post a response to the following prompts:

  • Provide a brief summary of the process of development      of the DSM system of diagnosis.
  • Share something that surprised you about the      development of the DSM-5.
  • Describe one example of how the classification system      of disorders in the DSM-5 has marginalized or      pathologized diagnosed populations historically or currently.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Required Resources

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

  • Section      III, “Cultural Formulation”
  • Appendix, “Glossary of Cultural Concepts of      Distress”

Kress, V. E., & Paylo, M. J. (2019). Treating those with mental disorders: A comprehensive approach to case conceptualization and treatment (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

  • Chapter 2, “Real World Treatment Planning:      Systems, Culture, and Ethics”

Hargett, B. (2020). Disparities in diagnoses: Considering racial and ethnic youth groups. North Carolina Medical Journal, 81(2), 126-129. doi:10.18043/ncm.81.2.126


Toscano, M. E., & Maynard, E. (2014). Understanding the link: “Homosexuality,” gender identity, and the DSMJournal of LGBT Issues in Counseling8(3), 248–263. doi:10.1080/15538605.2014.897296

Aftab, A. (2019). Social misuse of disorder designation, part 1: Conceptual defenses. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved from

American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). DSM history. Retrieved December 10, 2019, from

Spiegel, A. (2004). The dictionary of disorder: How one man revolutionized psychiatry. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Required Media

Walden University (Producer). (2019c). Social misuse of diagnosis: Pathologizing marginalized populations. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

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