Brittany Collins Kaufman | March 28, 2017
A consortium of 50 psychologists and psychiatrists from around the world has outlined a new diagnostic model for mental illness, in what researchers hope will be a paradigm shift in how these illnesses are classified and diagnosed.
Lee Anna Clark, William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Professor and Chair of Psychology, and David Watson, Andrew J. McKenna Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, who both are members of the consortium, say that the current model of diagnosis and classification — the DSM-5 — is fundamentally flawed.
“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) — which is overseen and published by the American Psychiatric Association — currently is the dominant diagnostic model in North America; it also is highly influential around the world,” Watson said. Although he and Clark were involved in the revisions for the DSM’s fifth edition, he said, “Quite frankly, we were not satisfied with the revisions that were made. We felt that DSM-5 was far too conservative and failed to recognize and incorporate important scientific evidence regarding the nature of psychopathology.”
The model the consortium proposes, called the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP), addresses these concerns, which are shared by many psychologists and psychiatrists.
The HiTOP model differs from the DSM in two fundamental ways, Watson said. First, although the DSM’s categorical nature means that a specific diagnosis is given only if someone meets a specific number of criteria, the HiTOP model allows for not only a diagnosis but also an assessment of its severity.