The “medical model of mental illness” and the new fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-V) have been kicked around by a lot of people recently. But let’s not lose track of the fact that the DSM serves a useful purpose. Most people wouldn’t put ketchup on everything, but they won’t claim that ketchup is useless, either. So, too, with the DSM.
Let’s keep in mind that DSM stands for “diagnostic and statistical manual,” and its main purpose is to allow different professionals to talk to each other with an agreed-upon vocabulary, and for records and statistics to be kept that had an agreed-upon meaning. This function is essential!
For example, suppose a guy goes on the rampage and breaks 57 windshields with a baseball bat because (he claims) this is the only way to keep the vampires at bay. After the sound of broken glass dies away, any number of people want to know, “Now what?” — starting with “jail or hospital?” and continuing on down the line. What to do depends on what’s going on with this dude, and that’ll influence actions by the cops, the courts, the hospital, the health-insurance company, the prosecuting and defense lawyers, his placement or probation if found guilty, and on and on.