Gender Bias in the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Disorders

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1998, Vol 43(10), 697–698. The reviewer notes that this work (see record 1996-98884-000) presents a history and critique of the psychodiagnosis of women. Although they include the majority of consumers of mental health services, women have been mistreated throughout the history of the mental health system in America. Gender bias in diagnostic classification systems has been a hot topic in the literature for quite some time. Advocating a paradigm shift from categorical classifications to contextual approaches to diagnosis, Lerman differentiates between systems that use categorization (like the editions of the DSM) and systems that use dimensional scaling. Lerman explores and evaluates some of the alternative classification systems, such as those used in nursing and social work, as well as proposed systems within psychology. She recommends the adoption of alternative systems of classification, especially favoring the Person-In- Environment (Karls & Wandrei, 1994) system used in social work, and advocates the additional consideration of external etiology. This book is valuable as a cautionary note to all in the mental health field to wield their diagnostic tools wisely. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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