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Psychol Med. 1984 May;14(2):303-13.

Descriptive psychopathology: conceptual and historical aspects.


This paper offers a conceptual and historical analysis of descriptive psychopathology. The first section defines it as a cognitive system constituted by terms, assumptions and rules for its application. It traces the conceptual implications of this definition and relates them to clinical practice. The second section contains an up-to-date assessment of current historical work on descriptive psychopathology and offers a new hypothesis to account for its development during the nineteenth century. It is suggested that the work involved in the testing of the hypothesis should be carried out by psychiatrists with historical training and as a separate speciality. It is concluded that the historical calibration of psychiatric symptoms must be considered as an essential stage in the construction of a viable descriptive psychopathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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