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This is a research paper on the classification of human disorders based on the DSM-IV. A psychological disorder is a special behavior pattern that affects the life of a person, who experiences its symptoms. In order to properly seek medical attention, a diagnosis of psychological disorders based on the prevalent symptoms is very important. The DSM-IV TR was introduced by the American Association of Psychiatrics to classify sets of psychological disorders based on their symptoms.

Through the introduction of the DSM-IV, the total number of registered psychological disorders has raised up to 250 categories. This has been caused by a new set of sub-classifications of every individual disorder. Among these classifications, the major categories include mood disorders, sleep disorders, eating disorders, somatoform disorder, personal disorder as well as anxiety disorders. The incorporation of the DSM-IV has facilitated greater changes in a wider psychological view of diagnosis. With the new trend of classification, more people have been encouraged to go for diagnosis tests on mental disorders. The main reason behind this ideology is based on the eradication of stigmatization fears.

Based on the introduction of the DSM-IV diagnostic system, a wider section of classes have evolved to cover up very minor classes of disorders. The DSM-IV classification modal provides for 16 major categories of maladjustments and about 200 sub-categories. This design has boosted the reliability of diagnosis through observable syndromes. In the DSM-IV classification of psychological disorders, the current behavioral observations are used.

The DSM-IV classifies mental disorders into sixteen categories with more than 200 sub-categories. The DSM-IV main objective is to simplify the process of diagnosing people with mental disorders by means of simple elaborated steps. The process of establishing diagnosis of mental disorders should be systematic, based on symptoms and consistent and realistic critical judgment rather than on assumptions (Diagnostic statistical Manuals 1994). The DSM-IV is the most popular means of classifying human disorders and is universally accepted with few exceptions. The DSM-IV is the most inclusive model of classifying psychological human disorders offering a wide range of symptoms and causes. The application of the DSM-IV mode of classifying human disorders aims at identifying a disorder and its symptoms, forecasting its future sequence, administering treatment of the affected party and initiating investigation into disorder’s causes. Psychological human disorders are caused by a variety of factors, which include: human dynamics, psychological state, social and genetic factors (Louis et al.1999)

This research paper is organized into subtopics. Each subtopic brings out an independent idea. The report is composed of objectives formulated in accordance with research requirements. A research problem statement is developed to meet the objectives, which highlight the need for the research and justify why it should be carried out. In addition, the paper describes research methodology and findings, among other things. It ends with a conclusion and implications drawn from research findings. The paper describes the effects of changes in people’s perceptions of the classification of psychological human disorders on the society. The research revolves about changes in the perception brought about by the introduction of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM –IV 1994). In general, according to the statistical manual, there are five points of view in regard with a diagnosis of psychological human disorders. These points of view are referred to as axioms 1-5. The five scopes are as follows: clinical disorders, acute physical and medical disorders, environmental and psychological disorders, global valuation disorders, intellectual and personality disorders.

Over the years, the nature of human beings continues to exhibit complexities. Earlier researches indicate that behavioral differences between varieties of people are beyond simple classification and so are human disorders. Notwithstanding that, the introduction of the DSM-IV mode of classifying human disorders continues to cause various reactions among various quotas and groups of thought. Therefore, the topic of classifying human disorders can no longer be ignored, especially because different schools of thought have been exhibited in an attempt to shed light into the topic. Such perception contained in the DSM-IV model may continue to unfairly influence the perception of earlier points of view on psychological disorders, slur affected persons, and control future research patterns. Therefore, they should be well-understood.

In addition, diverse causes of human disorders, such as genetic mutilation, self-defeating opinions, and changes in social patterns, among others, serve to further complicate the topic on human psychological disorders. Significantly, the fact that pointers of human disorders can be largely misinterpreted and are rarely measurable with reliable accuracy is also very important.

This research answers the question “how the DSM IV changed the perspective on the classification of human disorders”.

Study Objectives

  • To identify symptoms and pointers of human disorders based on the DSM-IV:

The research seeks to identify specific symptoms of psychological human disorders. It also sheds light on various points of view introduced by the DSM IV concerning the perception of already identified human disorders.

  • To identify various categories and sub-categories of human disorders based on the DSM:

The research seeks to identify various categories and sub-categories of psychological disorders based on the DSM- IV.

  • To identify the effects of the DSM IV on the medical personnel and the public in general:

The research identifies specific effects, which the DSM IV has on medical professionals and the medical field as a whole. It also identifies ways, in which the introduction of the DSM IV in 1994 has been continuing to change people’s perspectives on human disorders up to date.

Significance of the Study

Traditional methods of classifying psychological disorders have been marred with inconsistent findings. This has led to a misleading conclusion in the field of medicine. It is in this regard that the DSM IV has been founded to help o curb such inconsistent outcomes. The study is significant, since it provides an understanding of the DSM-IV approach of classifying psychological disorders, which is vital for eliminating confusion resulting from various sources of information in the medical field. There is currently a misunderstanding of various perceptions of classifying psychological disorders. This research will help to give a clear understanding of various changes brought about by the DSM-IV and hence to eliminate this misunderstanding.

The information obtained from the research can be used by professionals in the medical and counseling fields to help affected persons overcome their challenges. Professionals in the medical field will find this report greatly invaluable, especially because it provides them with tools of their trade. Medical professionals and counselors need to be kept informed on changes affecting people, with which they deal, as well as international practices. This report serves that purpose.

Findings of this report are not only informative, but also educative.

Understanding symptoms and syndromes of human disorders, which form the basis of classification, is provided by this report. This understanding will be significant for the general public.

Research Methodology

Correlation was selected as the means of collecting and verifying statistical data. A variety of methods were used to collect and verify the validity of data. The correlation mehod involves the comparison of research results from various sources to identify the variation of one variable due to changes in another one. In other words, correlation as a research method helps to establish the relationship between variables. When using this method, the researcher should find out two existing variables and determine whether or not these variables in question are related as well as to identify the nature of relationships. In this case, there is a correlation between the use of the DSM IV and the perspective of classifying psychological disorders. Therefore, the research seeks to explain how the DSM IV has changed the perspective on classifying psychological disorders. The main purpose of using this method is to enable us to predict the effect of one variable on another one.

Advantages of the Method

  • The knowledge about correlation can help us to make predictions about things. In other words, we can predict the behavior of one variable based on that of another one. For instance, we can easily identify the perspective of a psychiatrist in regard with classifying psychological disorders based on the influence of the DSM IV.
  • Variables can be easily observed in their natural settings.
  • The correlation method is also appropriate in cases, where variables cannot be manipulated.

Disadvantages of the Method

  • The used archives comprised biased information, data of which could not be verified with accuracy, since it was impossible to carry out experiments.
  • Actual observation and interviews were time-consuming and tiresome.
  • Interpretations made on causes and effects were very unclear.
  • All variables involved in human psychology were not accurately verified.

Data Collection Methods


General observation of the public at training institutions, hospitals counseling centers, and public bus stations were used to collect data on human behaviors used for comparative purposes. In addition, further information was collected through paying courtesy calls to medical centers in order to examine medical conditions of the mentally-ill group of people.

Statistical Manuals and Reports

The main information was obtained from statistical manuals, comprising data on human behavior. Reports on human psychology and human psychological disorders were used .These reports and statistical manuals were obtained from archives in medical libraries and research centers. Based on the DSM IV model, and data obtained from archives, it was realized that such report manuals, as well as statistical data, were of great importance for data collection during the research.


Interviews were conducted with medical professionals, the general public, counselors, social workers and analysts from various fields for the purpose of obtaining information on various aspects, including differences in the perception of classifying psychological human disorders. Examples of interview questions posed to the interviewee engaged in the medical field include:

1) How do you classify various psychological human disorders after establishing a diagnosis?

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

2) How do methods, which you use for establishing a diagnosis, differ from those used in the past?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Information retrieved from interviewers was an easy way to access firsthand information vital for the research. A clear picture obtained from one-on-one interaction with medical psychiatrists was the best way to trap information from the ground, where the actual effect is evident.


            Questions were distributed to a variety of fields and used to collect data. These fields include: the medical field, namely hospitals, counseling centers, and public galleries, among others. The questionnaire seeks to clarify such matters as methods used for establishing diagnoses of people affected by psychological human disorders, procedures for treatment as well as differences in perception since the introduction of the DSM in 1994.

Sample of the basic information retrieved from the questionnaire

Name of the patient

Mental disorder

DSM- IV classification













Data Analysis and Verification

The data analysis procedure was carried out in two phases namely: initial data analysis, and actual data analysis.

Initial Data Analysis

Data collected from observation, interviews and questionnaires were verified by the use of frequency charts to determine the correlation of data, their accuracy and consistency. Missing information was included by means of the use of a square root alteration.

Actual Data Analysis

The obtained data were organized in charts and tables and were used to draw out findings .These findings were then documented, as well as a correspondence was also observed and documented. The documentation contains information relating to the classification of human disorders according to various schools of thought, including the DSM-IV, various symptoms of psychological human disorders and a class of disorder, which they indicate, as well as the correlation existing between various schools of thought.


Our research findings were subdivided into three major categories, namely:

  1. General perspectives on the classification of human disorders;
  2. Other models of the classification of human disorders;
  3. The DSM-IV Perspective on the classification of human disorders.

General Perspectives on the Classification of Human Disorders

The normality of the society is measured by its conformity with social orders. Individual’s normality is determined by their well-being. Normality can be classified and assigned a degree depending on one’s discomfort and functionality levels.

Other Models of the Classification of Human Disorders

It was shown that such a variety of schools of thought is caused by the problem of the classification of human disorders. One such school of thought is based on the medical model of psychological disorders. This model insists that human psychological disorders are mental diseases/illnesses. The model observes that these diseases can be diagnosed by keen observation of one’s behavior to detect their symptoms. According to this model, the only way to cure such disorders is through medical therapy.

Criticism of This Model

Our findings identified that this model faces criticism from other schools of thought putting forward a point of view that human psychological disorders are not a result of illness, but rather of the environment.

Another school of thought, namely the bio-psycho-social one, proposes that human psychological disorders result from human dynamics, psychological state, social factors as well as genetic factors.

According to the statistical data obtained from medical archives, it has been found out that the DSM-IV mode of classifying psychological disorders comprises 16 basic categories. These categories include:

Anxiety Disorders

This is a state of diffuse unpleasant sensation of apprehension, fear and vulnerability. The basic signs of anxiety include motor tension, hyperactivity and apprehension. Motor tension is characterized by the inability to relax, trembling and jumpiness. Apprehension covers symptoms of the persistent case of disturbing thoughts. Hyperactivity is characterized by a racing heart, perspiration and dizziness.

Based on the DSM-IV mode of classification, anxiety disorder can be further classified into five major sub-categories. The first sub-category is referred to as generalized anxiety disorder. This is often characterized by excessive worry occurring for a span of time covering up to six months. Generalized anxiety disorder is not triggered by any external objects or events. For this reason, GAD can be referred to as free floating anxiety.

Another sub-category of anxiety disorder is referred to as phobic disorder. This level is marked by irrational fear of situations as well as objects or situations, for example, snakes. The high altitude fear is referred to as acrophobia; the fear of open places is referred to as agoraphobia, while the fear of embarrassment during any form of performance is referred to as social phobia.

The third sub-category of anxiety disorder is referred to as panic. In panic disorder, chronic tension results into snap shots of intense panics. Related symptoms in this sense include dizziness, chest problems and trembling. Compulsive disorder is another sub-category of anxiety disorder, which entails the pre-occupation of thoughts by particular behaviors. In the DSM-IV classification, compulsive disorder is analyzed in conjunction with obsessive disorder. Compulsion disorder entails the repetitive compulsion of one’s mind engaged in repetitive activities. In most cases, this activity takes place without particular intended zeal. The last sub-category of anxiety is referred to as post traumatic disorder. This category of disorder is characterized by the continual experience of repeated traumatic events. Symptoms related to this disorder include increased arousal, and reduced interest in continual daily activities. Examples of such symptoms are experienced, when war fighters keep on experiencing vivid nightmares about a battle.

The second category of classification highlighted in respect to the DSM-IV is referred to as somatoform disorder. This category is characterized by a variety of symptoms pertaining to physical dysfunctions. On the contrary, the DSM-IV provides no organic cause of disorders.

Two major sub-categories of somatoform disorder include conversion and hypochondriacs. According to the DSM-IV model of classification, conversion disorder is a manifestation of physical dysfunction. These may constitute non-organic-based blindness, paralysis or even deafness. On the other hand, hypochondriasis disorder entails a continued belief that it is an illness and this has not even been confirmed true by doctors. An example of this scenario is when hypochondriac interprets a simple stomach upset to be a stomach tumor, even though there are no medical tests conducted to verify this.

Another category of disorder is referred to as dissociative. This disorder occurs when an individual separates its personality from other parts. In response to the whole idea, this leads to the lack of identity integration, consciousness and memory. Based on the DSM –IV, there are five basic forms of dissociative disorders. The most common include: dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue and dissociative identity disorder.

 As far as dissociative amnesia is concerned, a person comes up with a sudden inability to remember basic personal details, such as his or her name. This condition is normally a result of psychological trauma leading to the loss of memory. The DSM –IV classification expounds that this sub-category of disorder does not depend on physical traumas. The recovery of memory in this case occurs slowly and gradually.

Dissociative fugue is a state, whereby an individual cannot properly recall his or her past. This occurs when such people travel from home unexpectedly and become confused. The DSM –IV model explains that these individuals eventually claim a new identity. Recovering from such a state may be very rapid. Dissociative identity disorder is basically characterized by the assumption of two basic distinct personalities. Each personality expresses itself differently based on time. This disorder brings about a level of forgetfulness. No basic personal information can be recalled because of the inability of a person to do this. The major cause of this disorder is childhood upset, such as sexual abuse.

In addition, mood disorder is another category addressed by the DSM –IV in disorder characteristics. At this level of analysis, the DSM –IV model states that mood disorder has characteristics of creating a form of disturbance in the individual’s mood. This disorder can be categorized into two major sub-categories based on the DSM –IV model. These sub-categories include major depressive and bipolar disorders. Under depressive disorder, an individual can occasionally experience total depression in a span of two weeks. During this period of time, a person can think about how worthless he is. The individual will then lose interest in various activities.

Bipolar disorder is another sub-category of mood-related upset of human beings. In this state, a person is characterized by two extreme moods. The first state comprises the furthest level of hopelessness. The other extreme point is experienced as overexcitement. A person suffering from bipolar disorder may easily mess him/herself up by acting in an inappropriately destructive manner. The main factors affecting mood disorders include genetically-induced and biochemical factors.

Eating disorders comprise various cases of severe eating behavior disturbances. The DSM IV model differentiates anorexia nervosa as one of the sub-categorical disorders characterized by the fear of becoming overweight. This disorder equally contributes to the need to maintain minimal normal weight. The most common idea in the mind of individuals with this disorder is continued worry about body size or shape. In addition to anorexia nervosa, he DSM –IV model provides information concerning Bulimia nervosa. This disorder is characterized by using inappropriately unique techniques in eating. These techniques may include purging, as well as the use of laxatives to achieve anti-weight gaining mechanism.

Schizophrenia disorder is another form of severe condition resulting into distorted perceptions and thoughts. Another related effects of this disorder include social withdrawal and distorted communication. The DSM–IV model provides information about five major types of schizophrenia disorder. The first one is referred to as paranoid schizophrenia and is normally characterized by delusions and hallucinations. This disorder makes its victims lose trust in all men claiming that all others have got negative plots against them. These individuals may then seek to retaliate against all their perceived enemies.

The second type of schizophrenia highlighted in the DSM –IV is referred to as catatonic. This results from the maintenance of a given state of violence for a long time. This person may equally move round in a highly violent track of actions. In addition, disorganized schizophrenia forms the next basic part of the DSM –IV disorder classification. This category constitutes inappropriate speech patterns, movements and moods. This section explains that moods can either be expressed through crying or laughing in unstable times. The next type of schizophrenia is referred to as undifferentiated. In this category, illusions have greater domination leading to disorganized behavior and incoherent speech. Symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of other types of schizophrenia.  

The last type of schizophrenia referred to as residual. In this disorder, symptoms include the lack of well wish to people, flat effects and poverty of speech.


The DSM-IV classifies mental disorders into sixteen categories with more than 200 sub-categories. Its main objective is to simplify the process of diagnosing people with mental disorders by means of taking simple elaborated steps. The diagnostic process of mental disorders should be systematic, based on symptoms and consistent and realistic critical judgment rather than assumptions (Diagnostic statistical Manuals 1994). The DSM-IV is the most popular means of classifying human disorders and is universally accepted with few exceptions. It is the most inclusive model of classifying psychological human disorders offering a wide range of symptoms and causes. The application of the DSM-IV mode of classifying human disorders aims at identifying a disorder and its symptom, forecasting its future sequence, administering treatment of the affected person and initiating investigation into its causes. Psychological human disorders are caused by a variety of factors, which include human dynamics, psychological state, social factors and genetic factors (St Louis et al.1999).


The introduction of the DSM-IV has affected people’s points of view and perspectives on psychological human disorders classification and influenced the society in the following spheres:


Improved pastoral counseling

This has been achieved through changing the point of view of religious leaders concerning psychological human disorders. The model equips trainers of counselors with the content and diversity of human disorders. Diversified methods of treating affected persons include the participation of religious leaders in the process.

Medicine and Nursing

This is shown by changing training of medical doctors and nurses and incorporating new views, hence equipping them with the capacity to offer diagnosis and treatment to psychological disorders. This fastens the process of treatment and establishing diagnoses of psychological human disorders. The diagnostic process is subdivided into five major groupings, namely clinical disorders, acute physical and medical disorders, environmental and psychological disorders, global valuation disorders, intellectual and personality disorders.

Self-Esteem and Identity

Understanding causes and diagnosis of psychological human disorders helps to boost one’s self-image. The DSM –IV, unlike earlier models, identifies a variety of causes of psychological disorders giving an affected person the capacity to understand and improve his or her self-image.

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