The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis: A pluralogue part 3: Issues of utility and alternative approaches in psychiatric diagnosis

James Phillips, Allen Frances, Michael A. Cerullo, John Chardavoyne, Hannah S. Decker, Michael B. First, Nassir Ghaemi, Gary Greenberg, Andrew C. Hinderliter, Warren A. Kinghorn, Steven G. LoBello, Elliott B. Martin, Aaron L. Mishara, Joel Paris, Joseph M. Pierre, Ronald W. Pies, Harold A. Pincus, Douglas Porter, Claire Pouncey, Michael A. SchwartzThomas Szasz, Jerome C. Wakefield, G. S. Waterman, Owen Whooley, Peter Zachar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


In face of the multiple controversies surrounding the DSM process in general and the development of DSM-5 in particular, we have organized a discussion around what we consider six essential questions in further work on the DSM. The six questions involve: 1) the nature of a mental disorder; 2) the definition of mental disorder; 3) the issue of whether, in the current state of psychiatric science, DSM-5 should assume a cautious, conservative posture or an assertive, transformative posture; 4) the role of pragmatic considerations in the construction of DSM-5; 5) the issue of utility of the DSM - whether DSM-III and IV have been designed more for clinicians or researchers, and how this conflict should be dealt with in the new manual; and 6) the possibility and advisability, given all the problems with DSM-III and IV, of designing a different diagnostic system. Part 1 of this article took up the first two questions. Part 2 took up the second two questions. Part 3 now deals with Questions 5 & 6. Question 5 confronts the issue of utility, whether the manual design of DSM-III and IV favors clinicians or researchers, and what that means for DSM-5. Our final question, Question 6, takes up a concluding issue, whether the acknowledged problems with the earlier DSMs warrants a significant overhaul of DSM-5 and future manuals. As in Parts 1 & 2 of this article, the general introduction, as well as the introductions and conclusions for the specific questions, are written by James Phillips, and the responses to commentaries are written by Allen Frances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalPhilosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 23 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

Cite this

Phillips, J., Frances, A., Cerullo, M. A., Chardavoyne, J., Decker, H. S., First, M. B., Ghaemi, N., Greenberg, G., Hinderliter, A. C., Kinghorn, W. A., LoBello, S. G., Martin, E. B., Mishara, A. L., Paris, J., Pierre, J. M., Pies, R. W., Pincus, H. A., Porter, D., Pouncey, C., ... Zachar, P. (2012). The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis: A pluralogue part 3: Issues of utility and alternative approaches in psychiatric diagnosis. Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine, 7(1), [9].