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Human beings use labels in an everyday life. Sorting and understanding is easy with the labeling of items. It simplifies the services, as well. For example, students are often labeled by others in reference of the grades they become. Consequently, a student responds to the group tag/ name since he/she is identified with it. The same principle of labeling and diagnosis is employed to list mental disorders. Psychiatrists and health professionals often use the DSM-IV-TRS guidelines to establish and communicate a patient’s diagnosis after their analytical evaluation of the patient’s condition.
Health professionals classify the patients using the diagnostic method primarily for testing purposes. Findings on disorders classify patients with similar symptoms in the same DSM for psychological disorder. The practice of labeling and diagnosing patients and the use of diagnostics categories have received compliments as well as critics. This essay addresses the pros and cons of labeling and diagnosis that mental specialists use in classifying patients with psychological disorders. Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of diagnosis helps form an opinion that is either supporting or opposing the course.
One benefit of using diagnostic labels by health professionals in their practice is that labels communicate a vast deal of information. For example, when the term ‘bipolar disorder’ comes up, individuals who are familiar with the term get a snapshot of what a patient is suffering. The use of labels puts the different specialists on a common ground in terms of terminologies they use.
Another advantage of the use of diagnostic labeling arises when carrying a research on psychopathological syndrome's etiology. It aids in investigating the root causes of a specific mental problem. Labeling helps to set a standard or bench mark to compare the individuals who are the test objects. For example, some individuals who suffer a similar disorder may be given a treatment and some may be not, so as to clearly see how they respond to the treatment. A positive feedback will mean that the treatment is correct and that all other patients can take the dosage. A negative feedback results into the treatment stoppage.
On the other hand, use of diagnostic labeling has its disadvantages. To begin with, there is the problem of generalization of disorders. Patients may be said to suffer a ‘bipolar disorder’, due to the assumption based on the fact that a patient is exhibiting all the symptoms mentioned in the DSM-IV-TR. However, this may be incorrect: a patient exhibits varying symptoms of a disorder and in some cases the patient may not show all the signs indicated in the DSM-IV-TR but still suffer the disorder. Diagnostic labeling must not be an explanation of the disorder, but a means of communication about the disorder. Each patient is unique and requires significant attention.
Diagnostic labeling reliability is dependent on the method of diagnosis. There are several methods that are used in the process of diagnosing a patient. A reliable diagnosis ensures that different health professionals arrive at the same conclusion of the patient’s condition irrespective of the method they use.
A group of specialists and psychiatrists drafted the classification guidelines in the DSM-IV-TR. This means that they may incorporate or exclude certain disorders from this guideline based on the professional laws and beliefs. The alterations may be biased. Alterations create inconsistency, leaving the individuals doubtful of the credibility of the diagnostic labeling. Moreover, disorders are dynamic and the new symptoms totally new conditions are arising each new day, making the DSM-IV-TR guideline obsolete, hence it requires a regular up-to-date review.
Diagnostic labeling also results into civil violations of patients’ treatments. By use of labels, it is possible to know details about a person from the label. This may lead to the specialists giving treatment relaxing his/her attention on identifying the problem. Specialists should use labels as a tool of identifying a disorder and providing treatment. Civil violations may occur in the form of stigmatization of labeled patients. For example, in most African societies, HIV infected patients are outcasts.
From the above discussed, it appears that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, hence: diagnostic and classification practices should be scrapped from the health professional practices. Majorly, since every patient exhibits varying degree of symptoms, DSM-IV-TR guideline may not be enough reliable. Thus, taking into account that health professionals often do not put that much effort when identifying the disorder and base mostly on this guideline, diagnostic labeling may have detrimental outcomes.