Does Intuition have a Role in Psychiatric Diagnosis?

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Abstract

Psychiatric diagnosis is invariably guided by self-report. When such self-report is questioned, reliance on formalized testing predominates. The situation is less certain, however, when such methods and clinical “feel”, or intuition, conflict. While many argue for the supremacy of actuarial methods, fields such as Management have increasingly emphasized the importance of intuition; Psychiatry, although with few objective tests and reliance on the clinical encounter, offers surprisingly few answers. We explore here the use of intuition in decision-making through a case example and suggest that it is not inferior to other diagnostic methods: intuition should be used to suggest, guide, and modify psychiatric diagnosis. Mostly, there is a need for greater discussion among Psychiatrists including consideration to the clinical, legal, and ethical implications of the use of intuition in psychiatric decision-making.

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