What About Meaning?

New blog post:

Raskin, J. D. (2013, July 2). What about meaning? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://dxsummit.org/archives/955 (Reposted at http://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialists/posts/07-25-13)


My purpose here is to offer a clarion call to all the psychodynamic, interpersonal, humanistic, existential, cognitive, feminist, and constructivist therapists out there—essentially any psychotherapist whose conceptualization scheme involves mapping and understanding human meanings: We want to hear from you here on DxSummit. Your voices should be part of the conversation we are having about the future of diagnosis.

Speaking in Code

New blog post:

Raskin, J. D. (2013, June 10). Speaking in code [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://dxsummit.org/archives/811


The recent publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has brought several new disorders into public consciousness while eliminating some old ones. As just two examples, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation disorder is in, but Asperger’s is out. The often-overlooked irony is that when it comes to diagnostic codes—the numeric or alphanumeric codes used by insurance companies for reimbursement—things are not as they appear. That is, the DSM-5 disorder your doctor says you have may not be the one coded and sent to your insurance company.

Click here for the full post.

Can Evolutionary Theory Help Us Define Mental Disorder?

New blog post on The New Existentialists:

Raskin, J. D. (2013, January 4). Can evolutionary theory help us define mental disorder? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.saybrook.edu/newexistentialists/posts/01-04-13

Jerome Wakefield (1992a, 1992b) offers a provocative alternative to the vague atheoretical definition of mental disorder presently found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (APA, 2000). Rooted in evolutionary theory, Dr. Wakefield argues that mental disorder should be defined as a condition that (a) society deems harmful to the person, and (b) results from the failure of an internal mechanism to operate according to its naturally designed function. Dr. Wakefield contends that if the mental health professions adopted this definition, they would be better able to distinguish between what truly is a disorder and what is not. He maintains that while essentialist concepts sometimes lead us astray, other times they do identify common underlying properties of things. This is the case, he believes, when it comes to mental disorders, which leads him to conclude: “With respect to mental disorders, the common property that we now know is picked out is failure of evolved mental functions, so here the essentialist definition succeeds in picking out a real property” (Wakefield, 2002, p. 259). I’d like to pose several questions about Dr. Wakefield’s position as a way to further generate discussion.

Honoring the Memory of Thomas Szasz

My latest blog post, in memory of Thomas Szasz:
“Honoring the Memory of Thomas Szasz”

Thomas Szasz died on September 8, 2012. For over 50 years, he argued against the ever-increasing medicalization of everyday problems. His argument was simple, yet often misunderstood. Because minds (unlike brains) are not physical, they cannot suffer from diseases in any literal sense. Thus, when people talk of “mental” illnesses, they are using language metaphorically (Szasz, 1974).


Defining Mental Disorder, DSM-5 Style

New blog post examining the proposed revision to the definition of mental disorder, which is currently being considered for DSM-5:

EXCERPT: What is a mental disorder? This is a question the American Psychiatric Association (2012) has been contemplating as it prepares the DSM-5, the soon-to-be-published revision of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-5 development website proposes the following new definition of mental disorder…

Read the full post.