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Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health

2. Diagnostic Labelling of Mental Health

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About this Lecture


This second lecture approaches the topic of diagnostic labelling in mental health. The first point addressed is the reasoning for diagnosing someone, if they are demonstrating behaviour that may be a mental illness. The reasons given are that treatment can only be useful/possible if the individual treating them understands what their condition is, and that classifications can help us understand prevalence. The lecture then moves on to focus on classification systems, beginning by explaining that the development of our existing system(s) has only been possible thanks to stable patterns found across causes of mental health, and treatments allowing us to both differentiate and see common ground between different conditions; a process that remains ongoing. The next part of this lecture walks through some key classification systems, including a history of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders) and the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). The last part of this lecture looks at some of the potential problems with classification.


In this course, Dr Jude Stevenson (University of Glasgow) explores concepts of mental health, starting with understanding what abnormality means. The second lecture approaches the practice of diagnostic labelling, discussing both the positives and negatives of doing this, as well as walking through two key databases used to do it officially. The third lecture is a deep dive into Rosenhan’s 1973 paper ‘On Being Sane in Insane Places’ which investigated the legitimacy of psychiatric diagnoses, with some concerning results. The fourth and final lecture takes a walk through the history of understanding mental ill health, contextualising the timeline into three primary models – the supernatural model, the medical model, and the cognitive behavioural model.


Dr Jude Stevenson is a lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow, with a primary focus on mental health and well-being. Dr Stevenson’s research centres around body focused repetitive behaviours and is a UK ambassador for the TLC Foundation for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours. Some of her recent publications have been investigating obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Dr Stevenson is responsible for teaching the first-year mental health and well-being course, as well as the level two individual differences course.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Stevenson, J. (2021, November 30). Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health - Diagnostic Labelling of Mental Health [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Stevenson, Jude. "Psychopathology – Understanding Mental Ill Health – Diagnostic Labelling of Mental Health." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 Nov 2021,

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