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Psychiatric classification and subjective experience

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date04/2012
JournalEmotion Review.
Journal number2
Number of pages6
Original languageEnglish


This article does not directly consider the feelings and emotions that occur in mental illness. Rather, it concerns a higher level methodological question: To what extent is an analysis of feelings and felt emotions of importance for psychiatric classification? Some claim that producing a phenomenologically informed descriptive psychopathology is a prerequisite for serious taxonomic endeavor. Others think that classifications of mental disorders may ignore subjective experience. A middle view holds that classification should at least map the contours of the phenomenology of mental illness. This article examines these options. I conclude that it is not true that phenomenology is a logical prerequisite for classification, nor even that classification should necessarily respect phenomenological boundaries, but that detailed phenomenological examination can sometimes inform classification.