, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 421-472

Cultures in psychiatric nosology: The CCMD-2-R and International Classification of Mental Disorders

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Abstract

This essay reviews the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, Second Edition, Revised (CCMD-2-R, 1995), by assuming the theoretical stance that symptom recognition, disease construction, and taxonomic strategy in psychiatry reflect, and are constrained by, the cultural norms and values as well as the political and economic organizations of the society in which they are embedded. The CCMD-2-R is an ethnomedical classification grounded in both symptomatology and etiology, in which Chinese psychiatrists seek to conform with international classifications on the one hand, and to sustain a nosology with Chinese cultural characteristics on the other. Although broad similarities between the ICD-10 and CCMD-2-R are evident, their blending is legitimately incomplete. Thus, the particular additions (e.g., travelling psychosis, qigong induced mental disorders), deletions (e.g., somatoform disorders, pathological gambling, a number of personality and sexual disorders), retentions (e.g., unipolar mania, neurosis, hysteria, homosexuality), and variations (e.g., depressive neurosis, neurasthenia) reveal not only the changing notions of illness but also the shifting social realities in contemporary China. The CCMD-2-R will be widely used by Chinese psychiatrists and should standardize diagnostic practice and facilitate research, but its impact on everyday clinical work and psychiatric training remains to be evaluated. For Western researchers, it is one avenue for achieving an understanding of the Chinese social world, and should usefully be contrasted with the ICD-10 and DSM-IV as the move towards an international nosology continues.