What is a mental/psychiatric disorder? from DSM-IV to DSM-V

D. J. Stein, K. A. Phillips, D. Bolton, K. W M Fulford, J. Z. Sadler, K. S. Kendler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

186 Scopus citations


The distinction between normality and psychopathology has long been subject to debate. DSM-III and DSM-IV provided a definition of mental disorder to help clinicians address this distinction. As part of the process of developing DSM-V, researchers have reviewed the concept of mental disorder and emphasized the need for additional work in this area. Here we review the DSM-IV definition of mental disorder and propose some changes. The approach taken here arguably takes a middle course through some of the relevant conceptual debates. We agree with the view that no definition perfectly specifies precise boundaries for the concept of mental/psychiatric disorder, but in line with a view that the nomenclature can improve over time, we aim here for a more scientifically valid and more clinically useful definition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1759-1765
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010


  • Mental disorder
  • nosology
  • philosophy
  • psychiatric disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Stein, D. J., Phillips, K. A., Bolton, D., Fulford, K. W. M., Sadler, J. Z., & Kendler, K. S. (2010). What is a mental/psychiatric disorder? from DSM-IV to DSM-V. Psychological Medicine, 40(11), 1759-1765. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291709992261