Hyponarrativity and Context-Specific Limitations of the DSM-5

Public Affairs Quarterly 29 (1) (2015)
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his article develops a set of recommendations for the psychiatric and medical community in the treatment of mental disorders in response to the recently published fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, that is, DSM-5. We focus primarily on the limitations of the DSM-5 in its individuation of Complicated Grief, which can be diagnosed as Major Depression under its new criteria, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We argue that the hyponarrativity of the descriptions of these disorders in the DSM-5, defined as the abstraction of the illness categories from the particular life contingencies and personal identity of the patient (e.g., age, race, gender, socio-economic status), constrains the DSM-5's usefulness in the development of psychotherapeutic approaches in the treatment of mental disorders. While the DSM-5 is useful in some scientific and administrative contexts, the DSM's hyponarrativity is problematic, we argue, given that the DSMs are designed to be useful guides for not only scientific research, but also for the education of medical practitioners and for treatment development. our goal therefore is to offer suggestions for mental health practitioners in using the DSM-5, so that they can avoid or eliminate the problems that may stem from the limitations of hyponarrativity. When such problems are eliminated, we believe that effective psychotherapeutic strategies can be developed, which would be successful in repairing the very relationships that are strained in mental disorder: the patient's relationship to herself, her physical environment, and her social environment.



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Author Profiles

Şerife Tekin
State University of New York (SUNY)