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World Psychiatry. 2018 Oct;17(3):282-293. doi: 10.1002/wps.20566.

Progress in achieving quantitative classification of psychopathology.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA.
4
Department of Psychology, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
5
Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA.
6
Department of Psychology, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA.
7
Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, New York, NY, USA.
8
Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
9
Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, USA.
10
Psychiatric Research Unit, Slagelse Psychiatric Hospital, Slagelse, Denmark.
11
Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.
12
Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA.
13
Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA.
14
Department of Psychology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, USA.
15
Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA.
16
Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA.
17
Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
18
Department of Psychiatry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
19
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
20
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
21
Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.
22
Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA.
23
Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA.
24
Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
25
Department of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.
26
Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA.
27
Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.
28
Department of Psychology, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA.
29
Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
30
Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.
31
Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA.
32
Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD, USA.
33
School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.
34
Department of Psychology, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, USA.
35
Department of Psychology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA.
36
Department of Psychology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
37
Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.
38
Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.
39
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Randwick, NSW, Australia.
40
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
41
Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.
42
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge, TN, USA.
43
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
44
Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
45
Psychologische Hochschule Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Abstract

Shortcomings of approaches to classifying psychopathology based on expert consensus have given rise to contemporary efforts to classify psychopathology quantitatively. In this paper, we review progress in achieving a quantitative and empirical classification of psychopathology. A substantial empirical literature indicates that psychopathology is generally more dimensional than categorical. When the discreteness versus continuity of psychopathology is treated as a research question, as opposed to being decided as a matter of tradition, the evidence clearly supports the hypothesis of continuity. In addition, a related body of literature shows how psychopathology dimensions can be arranged in a hierarchy, ranging from very broad "spectrum level" dimensions, to specific and narrow clusters of symptoms. In this way, a quantitative approach solves the "problem of comorbidity" by explicitly modeling patterns of co-occurrence among signs and symptoms within a detailed and variegated hierarchy of dimensional concepts with direct clinical utility. Indeed, extensive evidence pertaining to the dimensional and hierarchical structure of psychopathology has led to the formation of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) Consortium. This is a group of 70 investigators working together to study empirical classification of psychopathology. In this paper, we describe the aims and current foci of the HiTOP Consortium. These aims pertain to continued research on the empirical organization of psychopathology; the connection between personality and psychopathology; the utility of empirically based psychopathology constructs in both research and the clinic; and the development of novel and comprehensive models and corresponding assessment instruments for psychopathology constructs derived from an empirical approach.

KEYWORDS:

DSM; Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology; ICD; Psychopathology; RDoC; classification; clinical utility; dimensions; mental disorder; nosology; personality

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