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A commentary on Kendler (2014)

Bebbington, PE; (2015) A commentary on Kendler (2014). [Review]. Psychological Medicine , 45 (6) 1119 - 1120. 10.1017/S0033291714002438. Green open access

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Abstract

Kendler argues for the reality of psychiatric diagnostic classes in terms of two realist theories of truth, coherence and correspondence. I would advocate an alternative interpretation of the truth status of diagnostic classifications that leads to different conclusions. This is based firstly on Karl Popper's ideas on the growth of knowledge, whereby hypotheses developed from theoretical conjectures are deliberately subjected to attempts at refutation (we refine our always provisional views of what is true by increasing our knowledge of what is false). My second source of argument is John Wing's view that diseases are theoretical constructs on which disease theories may be based and tested. Such theories relate variously to aetiology, pathology, treatment, course and outcome. Rejecting a disease theory does not force rejection of the disease construct it seeks to qualify. We adhere to disease constructs more strongly than to the disease theories based on them. However, if it becomes apparent that the information obtained by testing disease theories is incoherent, we may eventually jettison particular disease constructs, as has happened regularly in the history of medicine. The disease constructs used in psychiatry may be approaching this point.

Type: Article
Title: A commentary on Kendler (2014)
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291714002438
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291714002438
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014
Keywords: Disease constructs; disease theories; refutation; syndromes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > IoN RLW Inst of Neurological Sci
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1452143
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