No, mental disorders are not adjectives

Psychology and psychiatry are often criticized for reducing people to labels. In other words, for try to explain what makes us unique, the spirit and the personality itself, through numbers, statistical trends and categories relatively rigid.

Of course, if we look back, it is easy to see the consequences of what the lack of empathy and human treatment can do in psychiatry and in the scientific study of behavior: forced lobotomies, overcrowding of centers. psychiatric patients who could hardly be called that …

However, neither in psychology nor in medicine, it is not necessary to confuse the person with their illnesses or mental problems in order to be able to work in these fields. The adjectives of mental disorders are also not neither is the function of psychology or medicine to translate our essence by means of a diagnosis.

The use of labels in psychology

One thing needs to be clarified: the use of well-defined (or as narrow as possible) categories in psychology, such as psychopathy or intelligence, it is not something bad in itself.

Psychology tries to scientifically explain part of reality and, therefore, must use specific conceptsThis can be understood by the entire scientific community in this area of ​​knowledge, whatever their cultural background.

In other words, in science, one should avoid ambiguous definitions as much as possible; it is necessary to speak with propriety. Depression cannot be defined as “a state of mental negativity in which vital pessimism is transmitted”, but to understand what it is, one has to learn a series of very specific symptoms and established by scientific consensus.

In other words, psychology works from concepts that teach us about the characteristics of how we think, feel, and act from the perspective of an external observer who compares different cases to each other and comes to conclusions about the way he thinks, feels and a group of individuals act. The task of psychology is not to define what exists only in a person, But to discover the logics which make it possible to explain the mental and behavioral mechanisms of a multitude.

This means that a psychologist does not treat a person as if they are totally and totally unique, but works from the principles and generalities about the human mind and the behavior that it is experiencing. In fact, if not, his job could be done by anyone who is given a special sensitivity when it comes to being “one human soul touching another human soul.”

Psychology is not metaphysical

The problem arises when patients or psychologists and psychiatrists themselves believe that the scientific categories used in psychology and psychiatry they are direct reflections of people’s identity. That is, when the names of mental disorders, personality traits or symptoms become synonymous with the essence of people (whatever it is).

It is one thing to agree that by pragmatism one will work on the basis of well-defined and defined concepts, and it is another to assume that all one’s mental life is summed up in a diagnostic picture or in the result of a personality. test. This last option is not only part of the normal functioning of psychology, but also involves an overestimation.

The error is that sometimes the belief that the task of psychology is capture the identity and essence of people, tell us who we are.

However, whatever the etymology of the term “psychology”, the goal of this scientific and intervention field is much more modest than that of revealing the essence of each one; this task is reserved for metaphysicians.

Psychology is content to be useful in providing concrete solutions to material needs: improving the objective living conditions of people, providing models capable of better predicting how groups act, etc.

This is why the idea of ​​mental disorders and mental disorders, unlike adjectives, they only exist because they are useful in the network of coordinated efforts which is mental health and behavioral science, and nothing more. These are concepts that make sense in the clinical field and in certain branches of science to answer specific problems.

In mental health, there are no essences

In addition, it should be remembered that in psychology almost all mental processes are understood as part of a cycle that unites the person with his environment: we act according to what is happening in our own body, but what happens inside our body also depends on what is happening around us.

Even from a scientific point of view, one cannot understand a mental disorder as something that begins and ends in itself, as if it is part of something intrinsic to its being. Each person maintains a real-time connection with their environment and he could not exist (neither live nor die) apart from him.

This idea, by the way, would not only be good to keep in mind when thinking about diagnostic concepts, but also when thinking in terms as if they are used as adjectives beyond mental health.

Disorders like labels

Asking a mental health specialist to capture the essence of a patient through a diagnosis is like asking a gardener to express the rose from the rose by size.

Scientific categories such as those used to explain what mental disorders are they only make sense as part of an effort to provide solutions to very specific needs, Defined and based on the material, and do not have it as labels that can be used to sum up all the complexity of a single individual’s personality. This is not its function.

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