Towards a Phenomenology of Self-Patterns in Psychopathological Diagnosis and Therapy


Categorization-based diagnosis, which endeavors to be consistent with the third-person, objective measures of science, is not always adequate with respect to problems concerning diagnostic accuracy, demarcation problems when there are comorbidities, well-documented problems of symptom amplification, and complications of stigmatization and looping effects. While psychiatric categories have proved useful and convenient for clinicians in identifying a recognizable constellation of symptoms typical for a particular disorder for the purposes of communication and eligibility for treatment regimes, the reification of these categories has without doubt had negative consequences for the patient and also for the general understanding of psychiatric disorders. We argue that a complementary, integrated framework that focuses on descriptive symptom-based classifications (drawing on phenomenological interview methods and narrative) combined with a more comprehensive conception of the human subject (found in the pattern theory of self), can not only offer a solution to some of the vexed issues of psychiatric diagnosis but also support more efficacious therapeutic interventions.

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