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A Metaphysics of Psychopathology$
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Peter Zachar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027045

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027045.001.0001

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Psychiatry, Progress, and Metaphysics

Psychiatry, Progress, and Metaphysics

12 (p.203) Psychiatry, Progress, and Metaphysics
A Metaphysics of Psychopathology

Peter Zachar

The MIT Press

This chapter explores the claim that psychiatry has failed to make progress and gotten on the wrong track by expanding the diagnostic system to include conditions that are not really disorders. In other words, some believe that much of the imperfect community is a classificatory mistake as a result of over medicalization. Progress, it is said, would result in classifying only real disorders. A more pragmatic, less metaphysically encumbered notion of progress is offered. The history of what many consider to be the ultimate mythical psychiatric disorder – hysteria – is reviewed. Hysteria is analyzed in nominalist fashion examining its conceptual contrasts, seeing how it has been decomposed into components, and reviewing its stratification in the DSM. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the importance of metaphysical concepts such as real and objective for thinking philosophically about psychiatric disorders, urging also, that we think philosophically about these metaphysical concepts themselves.

Keywords:   Hysteria, Medicalization, Progress, Metaphysics, practical kind, nominalism, imperfect community

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