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The Philosophy of PsychiatryA Companion$
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Jennifer Radden

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195149531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195149531.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 11 April 2021

Setting Benchmarks for Psychiatric Concepts

Setting Benchmarks for Psychiatric Concepts

The Philosophy of Psychiatry
Jennifer Radden
Oxford University Press

This chapter analyzes the so-called “benchmark problem”, which is the problem of determining a diagnostic benchmark beyond which the ordinary (or normal) becomes extraordinary (or abnormal). Through an exploration of three diagnoses—chronic fatigue syndrome, schizophrenia, and Tourette's syndrome—it shows the extent to which psychiatric diagnosis involves what philosophers have called essentially contested concepts. It argues that when discernible physically abnormal states are absent, benchmarks for normality and tolerability are intrinsically unstable and arbitrary.

Keywords:   benchmark problem, chronic fatigue syndrome, schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, normality, tolerability

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