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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

We argue that dominant research approaches concerning mental illness, which are centered on traditional categories of psychiatric classification as codified in the DSM-IV, have serious empirical, conceptual, and foundational problems. These problems have led to a classification scheme and body of research findings that provide a very poor map of the domain of mental illness, a map that, in turn, undermines clinical and research pursuits. We discuss some current efforts to respond to these problems and argue that the DSM-5 revision process is not very promising, whereas the NIMH Research Domain Criteria initiative and some recent research in cognitive neuroscience fares better, although the latter remains potentially compromised by residual influences of the DSM-based approach. We conclude with some lessons and suggestions for the pursuit of alternative research pathways.

Keywords: DSM-IV, DSM-5, Research Domain Criteria Initiative (RDOC), mental illness, heterogeneity, comorbidity, ADHD research, problems with the DSM, problems with psychiatric research

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