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August 1964

Nonspecificity of Diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Psychopharmacology Service Center, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(2):197-202. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720260091014

This report will describe a study which compares the symptom patterns of three patients who were carefully and expertly diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenics. The question at issue was whether the patterns presented by the three patients are similar or whether they differ. The problem grows out of a concern that the lack of specific definition in the present American Psychiatric Association diagnostic nomenclature is resulting in the diagnostic grouping of patients who are highly heterogeneous with regard to their manifest symptoms and behavior. To the extent that this occurs, it seriously limits the usefulness of psychiatric diagnosis, both with regard to its function in clinical practice and its role in research. It is difficult, for example, to determine the specificity of new treatments when the system of classifying or typing patients lacks objectivity and specificity. It is also, of course, impossible to generalize