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Science and Pseudoscience in Abnormal Psychology, Part III; Diagnosis & the DSM February 10, 2014 PSYC 2340: Abnormal Psychology Brett Deacon, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Science and Pseudoscience in Abnormal Psychology, Part III; Diagnosis & the DSM February 10, 2014 PSYC 2340: Abnormal Psychology Brett Deacon, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Science and Pseudoscience in Abnormal Psychology, Part III; Diagnosis & the DSM February 10, 2014 PSYC 2340: Abnormal Psychology Brett Deacon, Ph.D.

2 Announcements This week: Today: Diagnosing mental disorders and the DSM Wednesday: Rosenhan article Friday: Exam #1

3 On Being Sane in Insane Places (Rosenhan, 1973)

4 “It is clear that we cannot distinguish the sane from the insane in psychiatric hospitals.” -D.L. Rosenhan

5 Diagnosis and Stigma On being sane in insane places (Rosenhan, 1973) Issues to consider in the article (1) how diagnoses were made (2) the effects of being labeled with a diagnosis (3) the effects of being a patient in a mental institution (4) your personal reaction to the study

6 From Last Class Naïve realism and the accuracy of subjective impressions (intuition) My debate with EPA president about antidepressant efficacy Second half of Scott Lilienfeld’s presentation

7 Important Points Pseudoscientific therapies are popular In part, their popularity is due to the romantic “way of knowing” (as opposed to empiricism) Romantics endorse naïve realism and fall prey to confirmation bias Scientific thinking is unnatural Scientists should be humble Scientific training – thinking like a scientist vs. learning scientific technologies Last few slides

8 Causes of Spurious Therapy Effectiveness Name reasons why a client might appear to improve during therapy – other than the direct effects of the therapy itself.

9 Causes of Spurious Therapy Effectiveness Placebo (expectancy) effects Spontaneous remission Regression to the mean Demand characteristics Maturation Absence of knowledge of the hypothetical counterfactual

10 Ethics, Science, and Pseudoscience APA ethics code ( Principle A: Beneficence and Nonmaleficence “Psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm. In their professional actions, psychologists seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally and other affected persons.”

11 Exam Review Chapter 1 (Intro and Historical Context) Defining abnormality, mental disorder, insanity, and disease DSM-IV and diagnosing mental disorders Differences between mental health professions Scientist-practitioner model Historical conceptions of psychopathology (supernatural, biological, psychological)

12 Exam Review Chapter 1 (Intro and Historical Context) Assumptions of the modern biological approach, classifying psychotropic medications and understanding drug action, chemical imbalance theory

13 Exam Review Chapter 1 (Intro and Historical Context) Psychoanalytic theory Humanistic theory Assumptions of scientific approach to psychotherapy research vs. humanistic philosophy Behavioral and cognitive theory (classical and operant conditioning, cognition)

14 Exam Review Costs of pseudoscientific therapies Lilienfeld talk Romantic vs. empiricism Reasons why what we think is so might not be Importance of science in abnormal psychology

15 Exam Review Rosenhan article Arguments, and responses from critics The anti-psychiatry movement

16 Exam Review Chapter 3 (Diagnosis; pp only) Categorical, dimensional, and prototypical approaches to classification Advantages and disadvantages of diagnosing Reliability and validity in diagnosis Characteristics of previous and current versions of the DSM

17 Diagnosing Mental Disorders and the DSM

18 Diagnosing Mental Disorders Diagnostic classification Classification is central to all sciences Develop categories based on shared attributes Controversial when applied to abnormal psychology

19 Classification Scientific classification strives to “carve nature at its joints” Seeks to identify “natural categories” Examples of natural categories of medical diseases: tuberculosis, hepatitis, influenza, HIV/AIDS Not all medical problems are natural categories Hypertension, obesity, etc.

20 Classification and Natural Categories

21 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders Natural vs. artificial categories Are mental disorders distinct entities that can be meaningfully (validly) classified into different categories? Does nature have “joints” that represent different mental disorders? Do mental disorders represent natural categories?

22 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders Mental disorders are not valid, in the sense that there is no objective test for them Mental disorders are “fictive categories” or “heuristics” not to be misconstrued as “natural kinds” or “real entities” (former NIMH Director Steven Hyman)

23 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders Does this mean that psychological problems do not exist? Is schizophrenia a “myth” (Szasz, 1961)? Validity issues aside, are there advantages to classifying mental disorders?

24 Classification and Natural Categories: Analogy to Mental Disorders

25 Classifying Psychopathology Categorical (classical) approach A person either has a disorder or does not Assumes each disorder has a clear underlying cause (most likely biological) Assumes each disorder is fundamentally unique Everybody with the disorder should meet all diagnostic criteria

26 Classifying Psychopathology Dimensional approach People have varying degrees of psychopathology Dimensions can overlap with each other Does not assume the presence of pathology

27 Classifying Psychopathology Dimensional approach Advantages: it is accurate Research shows that many mental disorder symptoms (e.g., depressed mood, obsessions and compulsions) are continuous, not categorical No need to assume people with problems are abnormal, defective, or fundamentally different from others

28 Classifying Psychopathology Dimensional approach Disadvantages: What are the dimensions? How many are there? How to rate them? What to do with these ratings? What would third-party payers do with these ratings? Nobody has ever generated a clinically useful dimensional system of classification

29 Classifying Psychopathology Prototypical approach 1. Identifies essential characteristics of a disorder 2. Allows for variations within the diagnosis Diagnostic criteria include a number of symptoms, only some of which need to be met Combines elements of categorical and dimensional approach, but in the end a person either has or does not have a disorder Exemplified in the DSM

30 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders 1. Problems are diagnosed based on symptoms without regard to their cause

31 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders Do all people who meet DSM diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder have the same problem? Person A: homesick college student Person B: terminally ill cancer patient Does the cause of a problem matter if we wish to understand and treat it?

32 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders 2. Excessive variation within the same diagnosis

33 Diagnosing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder The following people all have the same diagnosis: Patient #1: hoarding worthless objects Patient #2: contamination fear and washing rituals Patient #3: fear of stabbing others with knife Patient #4: fear of hitting pedestrians with car Patient #5: symmetry and arranging compulsions Patient #6: blasphemous obsessions and compulsive religious rituals

34 Issues in Diagnosing Mental Disorders 3. Excessive overlap between different diagnoses

35 Comorbidity Exemplar: Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Common symptoms: Physical agitation/restlessness Fatigue/loss of energy Difficulty concentrating Irritability Sleep disturbance Extremely high comorbidity “All depressed patients are anxious, but not all anxious patients are depressed” (your text)

36 Purposes and Evolution of the DSM Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM); published by American Psychiatric Association DSM-I (1952) and DSM-II (1968) Both relied on unproven theories and were unreliable

37 Diagnostic Criteria for “Phobic Reaction” in DSM-I (1952)

38 Evolution of the DSM History of the DSM 5 editions, I in 1952 through IV in 1994 DSM-I (1952) DSM-II (1968) DSM-III (1980) DSM-III-R (1987) DSM-IV (1994; “Text revision” in 2000)

39 Number of Diagnoses in the DSMs Across Editions ( )

40 The Modern DSM DSM-III (1980), DSM-III-R (1987), DSM-IV (1994) Atheoretical, emphasizing clinical description Detailed diagnostic criteria for each disorder Checklist approach to diagnosis Improved reliability for most disorders Problems include low reliability for some disorders and reliance on committee consensus

41 The Modern DSM Paradigm shift from DSM-II to DSM-III (1980) From vague, psychoanalytic model to atheoretical, symptom checklist This shift was not precipitated by advances in scientific understanding of mental disorders Why did it occur?

42 Atheoretical Diagnosis Diagnostic criteria focus on symptoms, not on their presumed underlying causes Improves diagnostic reliability Fosters checklist approach to diagnosis Discourages attempts to understand the factors that are contributing to symptoms

43 Basic characteristics Multiaxial approach to diagnosis Five axes describing full clinical presentation The DSM-IV (1994)

44 Axis I – Most major disorders Axis II – Stable, enduring problems (e.g., personality disorders, mental retardation) Axis III – Medical conditions related to abnormal behavior Axis IV – Psychosocial problems Axis V – Global clinician rating of adaptive functioning (Global Assessment of Functioning, or GAF) The DSM-IV

45 The Case of Jenny Jenny, a 21-year-old nurse, has mild asthma. She worries that shortness of breath signifies an impending episode of suffocation and death. When she has difficulty breathing, she often experiences severe panic attacks during which she is convinced she is dying. She was referred to a psychologist after numerous ER visits, unsuccessful medication trials, and relaxation training. She frequently misses work because of her panic symptoms and is in danger of being fired if she takes any more sick days.

46 Jenny’s DSM-IV Diagnosis Axis I: Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia Axis II: No diagnosis Axis III: Asthma Axis IV: Occupational problems Axis V: GAF = 55 (Current)

47 Diagnosing Mental Disorders Primary role of mental health professionals Scientifically questionable but practically indispensable in our current healthcare system

48 Reliability and Diagnosis Reliability (interrater agreement). Affected by: Subjectivity of diagnostic criteria Patient report (accuracy, self-disclosure) Types of questions being asked by assessor Unstructured vs. structured interviews

49 Reliability and Diagnosis Diagnosing ADHD lieberman-still-passing-the-buck/ lieberman-still-passing-the-buck/ APA President Jeffrey Lieberman: ““…clinicians must resist marketing pressures, as well as parental pressures, to ensure that diagnoses are made in a rigorous way and that treatments are prescribed judiciously.” So, diagnoses are to be made in a rigorous way. Could anyone explain to me how the criterion item “Often runs or climbs about in situations where it is inappropriate (Note: in adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless)” can be applied in a rigorous way? How often is “often”? How would one even begin to assess the frequency with which a child runs or climbs about? How do we define appropriate? A strict, uptight nanny might say that running and climbing about is never appropriate. A parent or teacher might feel that running and climbing about were OK for boys but not for girls, etc… And apparently adolescents and adults score yes on this item if they often feel restless! I would guess that during the winter, half the adult population of the northern United States feel restless. We call it cabin fever! And aren’t adolescents supposed to feel restless? Isn’t it the time of the great awakening – when young people look to the horizon and dream their dreams?

50 Validity and Mental Disorders Mental disorders overlap a great deal and are not separated by “natural boundaries” We have no objective tests to detect them Mental disorders are not categorically distinct from normality (i.e., mental health problems exist on a continuum) Thus, mental disorders are not valid in the traditional sense They are, however, useful by virtue of conveying information about cause, outcome, and treatment (Kendell & Jablensky, 2003)

51 Advantages of Diagnosing Enhances communication between professionals Facilitates study of causes and treatments of specific disorders Helps in treatment planning Necessary for insurance reimbursement

52 Disadvantages of Diagnosing Adds little to our understanding of a problem Many diagnoses have poor reliability Stigmatizes patients and invites discrimination Suggests the presence of a disease state

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