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Mental Illness

Mental Illness

When physicians conceptualise medical illnesses there are usually tests available which can confirm or refute the diagnosis. These include laboratory tests, imaging or genetic markers in order to confirm impressions formed following physical examination of the patient in order to elucidate physical signs. In this way the diagnosis of, say, type 1 diabetes can be confirmed. Any competent physician would arrive at the same diagnosis, which would then lead to a treatment plan – often by following a protocol which has been formulated following experience of treating the condition over many years and with many patients. Such protocols are widely used in medicine and take away the need for individual clinical judgments (perhaps the art of medicine?). Correct use of this process leads to accurate reliable diagnosis and safe effective treatment.

Joel Paris (2013, Page XI) stated

“Psychiatry is nowhere near that level of knowledge. No biological   markers or tests exist for any diagnosis in psychiatry”. . . In 1980 I was     a strong supporter of the paradigm shift introduced by DSM- III [The    Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders produced by the         American Psychiatric Association]. It was progressive to move   classification away from unproven theories and to make diagnosis   dependent on observation. But this was a provisional stance that    became frozen in time, and progress over the succeeding decades was       slow. Radical changes in classification would require much more         knowledge about the causes of mental disorders. Which is just what we     don’t have”. . . Considering that it will take many decades to unravel the        mysteries of psychopathology, our current situation is nothing to be      ashamed of. Mental phenomena reflect the activity of the human brain,          which happens to be the most complex structure known in the entire           universe. There are more synapses in the brain than stars in the sky”.

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