We tackled the lack of a decent classification system for mental Illness before the DSM. We will now look at the DSM - Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness, which is the classification system for mental illness put out by American Psychiatric Association since 1952.
The DSM is sectioned into five sections called Axes.
Axis I contains the listing of the major mental illnesses. Here you will find:
Disorders originating in infancy, childhood and adolescence such as:
Motor skills Disorders
Pervasive Developmental Disorders such as autism
Disruptive Behaviors and Attention Deficit e Disorders
Feeding and Eating Disorders of infancy or Early Childhood
Tic Disorders such as Tourette’s Disorder
Communication Disorders such as Language disorders
Other Disorders of Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence such as selective mutism
Afterwards we have the adult disorders:
Delirium, Dementia, Amnestic and other Cognitive Disorders
Substance Related Disorders
Schizophrenia and other Psychotic Disorders
This is a particularly interesting group of disorders with deal with body image, unexplained pain, and physical symptoms such as loss of speech (conversion disorder) and so on.
Factitious Disorders (producing medical symptoms for an imagined illness)
Dissociative Disorders such as dissociative amnesia, or multiple personalities
Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders
Impulse Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified
Axis II contains the various personality disorders
These first two axes together will include what is considered to be abnormal behavior.
The other three axes are not included into the diagnosis of abnormal behavior but are needed in the assessment. It is well recognized that environmental factors often influence mental illness. For example, a person suffering from cancer or other medical conditions may become severely depressed.
General Medical Conditions
Axis IV takes into consideration the environmental issues and psychosocial issues that could affect a mental disorder.
These issues include:
Problems arising from a support group such as family, Parent-Child etc.
Problems related to the social environment such as lack of friends
Problems concerning education
Problems with job or occupations
Problems with housing
Problems accessing heath care services
Problems with the legal system
Other psychosocial problems
This axis is required for the assessment. The clinician will notate the patient’s current level of functioning.
Having a guideline such as the DSM does not eliminate the possibility of error in assessment but helps to standardize the field, allowing clinicians more opportunity to come up with the same diagnosis.