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The Disadvantage Of Classifying Personalities Into Specific Types Is That These Types

What are the advantages and disadvantages of classifying mental disorders into types?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of classifying mental disorders into types?

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I share much of the sentiments above regarding the benefits of classifying mental conditions. However, as some editors have also expressed, I feel there can be genuine drawbacks for a number of reasons. As a father of a son who may or may not be "dyslexic", you begin to realise how unhelpful the term can be as the problem is that there are so many different types of dyslexia - there is definitely not one definition or list of symptoms, and so often these conditions overlap with others, making labelling such conditions profoundly unhelpful and in a sense meaningless. Labelling can also be profoundly damaging - the problem with labels is that they stick and this can have an adverse affect on individuals.

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A lot of the posters refer to an aspect of the labels that make those of us in special ed very picky about using "people-first language." When you give someone a diagnosis, it is very easy to pigeon-hole them, and assume that you know everything about them. People-first language means that we should refer to, say, a person with autism, rather than "an autistic person". Putting the label as a qualifier makes it the most important thing about the person and that is simply not true.

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besure77 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The classification of mental disorders helps people to learn the disorder so there is a definite advantage to classification. A disadvantage is that many mental disorders overlap. In addition to this, people may suffer from more than one mental disorder.

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I would agree that by classifying the disorders it makes it easier for people to better educate themselves about the disorder. Whether it be a family member or someone that works with the person education about the disorder is very important.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It seems to me on one level that the advantages to classifying mental disorders into types would be minimal, though this may just be an issue of semantics with me.  This is no area of expertise for me, but your question seems to be analogous to taking random identified objects and putting them in an organized outline.  The items (disorders) have been identified, so putting them into order (classifying them) seems like a relatively benign exercise that has neither advantages nor disadvantages. 

On another level, categories of mental illness generally indicate degrees and types. When a certain mental disorder has been identified and placed under a general category of mental illness, the treatment and medication options necessarily become clearer and more precise.  That's a clear advantage.  The disadvantages include the stigma/label issue as mentioned above and possibly the insurance implications for treatment.

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It seems to me the primary benefit would be to properly assess treatment options, since some types of mental illness are treatable with medication...

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