Diagnosing DSM-IV - Part II: Eysenck (1986) and the essentialist fallacy

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In Part I of this two-article series, I used the harmful dysfunction analysis of the concept of disorder to 'diagnose' a problem with DSM-IV. I argued that DSM-IV diagnostic criteria often violate the 'dysfunction' requirement by invalidly classifying harms not caused by dysfunctions as disorders. In Part II, I examine Eysenck's argument that DSM commits a 'categorical fallacy' and should be replaced by dimensional diagnoses based on Eysenckian personality traits. I argue that Eysenck's proposed diagnostic criteria violate the 'harm' requirement by invalidly classifying symptomless conditions as disorders. Eysenck commits an 'essentialist fallacy'; he misconstrues 'disorder' as an essentialist theoretical concept when in fact it is a hybrid theoretical-practical or 'cause-effect' concept. He thus ignores the harmful effects essential to disorder that are captured in DSM's symptom-based categories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-665
Number of pages15
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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