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A screenshot of the OED open on 'diagnosis'
A screenshot of the OED open on 'diagnosis'

What is diagnosis?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines diagnosis as the “Determination of the nature of a diseased condition; identification of a disease by careful investigation of its symptoms and history; also, the opinion (formally stated) resulting from such investigation”.

This definition shows how psychiatric labels are aligned with physical health by using medical language; by definition psychiatric labels are classifications of distress as illnesses or ‘diseased conditions’.


Think about the definition of diagnosis…

Even though it’s the ‘official’ definition, do you think it’s how everyone sees psychiatric diagnosis, from psychiatrists, to family doctors (“GPs”), to mental health services, to Government agencies such as the United Kingdom’s Department of Work & Pensions (responsible for policies associated with pensions, occupational benefits, welfare payments etc), and to your friends, family, and colleagues?

Are psychiatric diagnoses neutral labels?

Share your thoughts by adding comments below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Beyond Diagnosis: Is Psychiatric Diagnosis helpful?

University of Liverpool