On Wednesday, October 31, Medicine and its Objects is delighted to present:

Rebecca Ewert

PhD Student, Sociology

“Psychiatric Scientific Legitimacy as a Social Problem in the Making”

Discussant: Steven Server, MD/PhD Candidate in

Medicine/Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science

Wednesday, October 31, 4:30-6pm


***Snacks and refreshments will be provided***

ABSTRACT: Psychiatry produces new diagnostic manuals at a rapid rate. These do more than establish particular forms of human experience as disease; new diagnostic manuals are the battleground upon which psychiatric scientific legitimacy is asserted and negotiated. I use Spector and Kitsuse’s four stages of social problem construction to examine the claims made by manual framers about the scientific credibility of psychiatry in the pursuit of establishing a lack of legitimacy as a social problem. The development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) has been used to establish the domain of psychiatry while simultaneously working to define scientific illegitimacy as problematic, most acutely in the period from the planning of the third edition in the 1970s to the publication of the fifth in 2013. In their attempts to establish scientific illegitimacy as a problem, psychiatric professional organizations are bound by sometimes competing constituent groups and therefore use an assortment of strategies with variable levels of success. Supported by a more streamlined group of constituents, the National Institute of Mental Health’s publication of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), an alternative psychiatric classification system, furthered the project of social problem construction by producing a parallel institution for those still unsatisfied with the handling of psychiatric scientific (il)legitimacy.

To receive the paper, or if you have any questions or require assistance to attend, email Stephanie Palazzo, spalazzo@uchicago.edu.

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