Toward Validation of a Structural Approach to Conceptualizing Psychopathology: A Special Section of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology

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Abstract

Traditionally, psychopathology has been conceptualized in terms of polythetic categories derived from committee deliberations and enshrined in authoritative psychiatric nosologies—most notably the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013). As the limitations of this form of classification have become evident, empirical data have been increasingly relied upon to investigate the structure of psychopathology. These efforts have borne fruit in terms of an increasingly consistent set of psychopathological constructs closely connected with similar personality constructs. However, the work of validating these constructs using convergent sources of data is an ongoing enterprise. This special section collects several new efforts to use structural approaches to study the validity of this empirically based organizational scheme for psychopathology. Inasmuch as a structural approach reflects the natural organization of psychopathology, it has great potential to facilitate comprehensive organization of information on the correlates of psychopathology, providing evidence for the convergent and discriminant validity of an empirical approach to classification. Here, we highlight several themes that emerge from this burgeoning literature.

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