Language and Diagnosis


The BPS has been tackling some important issues in mental health. In 2014, this involved publishing the ‘Understanding Psychosis’ report, and more recently, the BPS has published guidelines on ‘functional’ diagnostic nomenclature,  in which clinical conditions and treatments are articulated in non-medical language. In both cases, the BPS has identified an area of difficulty – perhaps even crisis – in mental health. Psychosis is poorly conceptualised and haphazardly treated. Diagnostic language in psychiatry was never ‘scientific’, and the farcical DSM-5 has eliminated any last vestige of credibility from these sorts of conceptual systems. There can be no doubt that the BPS has the best interests of what it calls ‘service users’ at heart when it attempts to tackle these problems and devise workable solutions to them. Continue reading

A Short Refutation of Behaviourism

Behaviourism began with the aim – we might say Heideggerean ideal – of practicing a science which does not think. Instead of the subjective methods of interview and introspection, behaviourists constructed an ‘objective’ observational model, in which, allegedly, antecedents and consequences would be causally strung together without the need for conjecture or inference. All of this was pinned to a transformation of the human subject into an object, and moreover, an object which functioned primarily as a learning machine, and whose workings could be understood without any reference to an inner world. (Not to mention without reference to others’ inner worlds – it was not for nothing that Wittgenstein considered behaviourism a kind of solipsism). Continue reading