Diagnosis and the Concept of Mental Illness

  • Norman Rosenzweig


In 1938, doctors Jules Masserman and Hugh Carmichael published a paper in The Journal of Mental Science entitled “Diagnosis and Prognosis in Psychiatry.”1 In this paper they reported that in a series of 100 inpatients followed up one year after discharge, over 40% required a “major revision” of their prior diagnosis. Another study, by A. T. Boisen,2 published that same year in the journal Psychiatry, reported huge variations in diagnoses of sub-types of dementia praecox (the name commonly used at the time for what we now call schizophrenia) between different states in the U.S., and even between different hospitals in the same state. For example, in one hospital in Illinois, 76% of dementia praecox patients were considered hebephrenic, while in another hospital in the same state only 11% of dementia praecox patients were diagnosed as hebephrenic.


Dementia Praecox Mental Illness Dementia Praecox Patient Clinical Skill Nosological Category 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J.Masserman and H. Carmichael, Diagnosis and prognosis in psychiatry, J. of Mental Science, 84: 893–946 (1938).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A.T. Boisen, Types of dementia praecox: A study in psychiatric classification, Psychiatry, 1: 23–236 (1938).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    T. Boisen, Types of dementia praecox: A study in psychiatric classification, Psychiatry,Press, New York (1963).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A.T. Beck, Reliability of psychiatric diagnosis: 1. A critique of systematic studies, Am. J. Psychiatry, 119: 210–216 (1962).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    N.Rosenzweig, S. G. Vandenberg, K. Moore and A. Dukay, Am. J. Psychiatry, 117: 1102 (1961).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    N. Raines and J. H. Rohrer,Am. J. Psychia-try, 110: 721 (1955).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    B.Pasamanick, S. Dinitz and M. Lefton, Am. J.Psychiatry, 116: 127 (1959)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    C.H. Ward, A. T. Beck, M. Mendelson, J. E.Mock and J. K. Erbaugh, The Psychiatric Nomenclature, Archives of General Psychiatry, 7: 198–205 (1962).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    M.D. Wilson and E. Meyer, Diagnostic consistency in a psychiatric liaison service, Am. J. Psychiatry, 119: 207–209 (1962).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    M.M. Katz, J. O. Cole and W. E. Barton, eds. Barton, eds.,“The Role and Methodology of Classification in Psychiatry and Psychopathology”, Public Health Service Publication 1584, U. S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare (1968).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Katz, Cole, and Barton (eds), op cit, p. 553, cf. 10.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    J. Zubin, Perspectives on the Conference, in: Katz, Cole and Barton (eds), op cit., cf. 10.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    N. Rosenzweig et al., A study of the reliability of the mental status examination, Am. J. Psychiatry; 117: 1102 (1961).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wing et al., Reliability of a procedure for measuring and classifying “Present psychiatric state,” Br. J. Psychiatry, 113: 499–515 (1967).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    T. B. Karasu, What therapy for which patient? Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 32: 519 (1981).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    R. W. Gerard, Units and concepts of biology, Science, 125: 429–433 (1957).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    O. Temkin, The history of classification in the medical sciences, in: Katz, Cole and Barton, eds., op. cit., cf. 10.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    F. Boissier de Sauvages, in: “Nosologia Methodica”, C. F. Daniel, ed., t. 1., Schwickert, Leipzig (1790), Prolegomena, article 74:p. 33, quoted in: O. Temkin. op. cit., cf. 17.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    D. G. Langsley, Presidential Address: Today’s teachers and tomorrow’s psychiatrists, Am. J. Psychiatry, 138: 1013–1016 (1981).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    W. Cullen, “Nosology” (anonymous English translation from Latin), Bell and Bradfrite, Edinburgh (1810), quoted in: O. Temkin, cf. 17.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    R. W. Gerard, Supplementary comments, in: Katz, Cole and Barton (eds), op cit., cf. 10.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    M. Hamilton, Discussant’s remarks, in: Katz, Cole and Barton (eds), op cit, cf. 10.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    J. Zubin, Perspectives on the Conference, in: Katz, Cole and Barton (eds), op cit., cf. 10.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Rosenzweig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatrySinai Hospital of DetroitDetroitUSA

Personalised recommendations