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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 53 (2011) 12, 895 - 903

Review article

Seven views on mental disorder

G. Meynen, A. Ralston

summary
background
Anyone attempting to devise a system for classifying mental disorders, such as dsm-5, needs to know what is meant by a mental disorder. This matter is also highly relevant for doctors in their daily practice and for persons involved in scientific research.
aim To present and discuss important views on the concept of mental disorder.
method Recent relevant literature is discussed, the main emphasis being on philosophical studies of the concept of mental disorder.
results None of the views discussed provides a satisfactory answer to the question of how mental disorder should be defined and demarcated. Each view, however, does contain valuable points and elements that may help to offer a meaningful perspective on mental disorder.
conclusion Mental disorder is a complex concept. The way in which it is defined and applied has far-reaching consequences. Psychiatry has a duty to define this concept as clearly and accurately as possible.

keywords concept of illness, medical model, mental disorder, philosophy