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J Abnorm Psychol. 2013 Aug;122(3):891-3. doi: 10.1037/a0033996.

Mapping the country within: a special section on reconceptualizing the classification of mental disorders.

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Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota.


At the outset of the golden era of cartography, fifteenth-century Europeans drew the earth as they wished it to be. Some maps were so fanciful as to show four continents like petals centered around Jerusalem. It would take a century of adventurers, navigators, mathematicians, and artists to align the map with the actual places where the rocks met the seas. In this effort, there were many lost voyages and sailors. Fictitious islands and isthmuses arose and fell. Yet even in their nascent form, the maps suggested important destinations and passages. They did not have to be perfect to be useful. Doubtless, there were times in the Age of Discovery when navigators were forced to choose between an old and dear map that had not been fully discredited, and a new and unknown picture of the world that remained yet unproved. How then did they decide which to trust? This special section of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology is designed to explore this question with three review papers and a commentary all composed by leading psychopathologists, the navigators and cartographers of our discipline. In the end, the DSM-5 became something more akin to a DSM-IV-TR-revised, as opposed to enshrining the new diagnostic paradigm the task force chairs originally sought. While there were several innovations, such as a chapter structure that better reflected data on the empirical organization of psychopathology, the old map was largely retained with a few of the sea monsters relocated.

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