Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

Definitions and Classifications

What are the drawbacks to classification systems?

It is critical to recognize that no matter how complex and sophisticated the classification system becomes, it can only provide guidelines for treatment. Diagnoses are prototypes—they are only ideals—and few patients fit the classification perfectly. In fact, many patients do not quite fit into any diagnostic category. Moreover, it is also critical to remember that the classification system applies to a pattern of symptoms. It does not and can never describe the whole person. For this reason DSM-IV-TR only refers to “individuals with schizophrenia,” for example, and not “schizophrenics.”


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App