The Use of “Science” and “Scientific Language” in the DSM-5

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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to analyze the scientific language used in the DSM-5 to diagnose “mental disorders” through a theoretical analysis. In particular, the concepts of “science of mental disorders” and “scientific progress” are investigated and the epistemological and operative implications of their use are introduced, covering the fields of psychosocial sciences. Arguing from the interactionist theoretical perspective, for the first set of implications, the concepts of atheoretical, objective, neutral, and evidence-based research and the tools used in order to pursue diagnostic validity and reliability are analyzed. For the second set, some consequences of the use of such concepts in the work interaction of mental health professionals with their patients are highlighted. In conclusion, some considerations about the relationship between the object of study, epistemological references, and practical instruments are expressed.