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The American classification of mental illnesses, known as the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), is an example of knowledge classification where shifts in conceptions have been unusually frequent. Since the major revision in 1980 that produced DSM-III, the DSM has claimed to be scientific, universal and founded on biology. This article points out the current DSM paradox: while the most eminent scientists question its scientific basis, ever-increasing numbers of people taking the concept on board are now using it as a common language that is tending to become universal.


  • psychiatry
  • mental illness
  • diagnosis
  • classification
  • DSM
  • inter-rater reliability
  • validity
  • pharmaceutical industry
Pierangelo Di Vittorio
Michel Minard
François Gonon
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