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Keywords:

  • clinical psychology;
  • cognitive content;
  • DSM;
  • validity

Abstract

Rationale, aims and objectives  Both modern neuroscience and clinical psychology taken as separate fields have failed to reveal the explanatory mechanisms underlying mental disorders. The evidence acquired inside the mono-disciplinary matrices of neurobiology, clinical psychology and psychopathology are deeply insufficient in terms of their validity, reliability and utility. Further, no effective trans-disciplinary connections have been developed between them.

Argument

In this context, our case study aims at illustrating some specific facets of clinical psychology as a crucial discipline for explaining and understanding mental disorder. The methods employed in clinical psychology are scrutinized using the exemplar case of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). We demonstrate that a clinical interview and a clinical psychological rating scale consist of the same kind of cognitive content. The provisional difference can be described in terms of its having two comparable complementary cognitive structures. The test is composed of self-evaluation reports (items) formulated as questions or statements. The psychopathological structured interview is formulated in terms of subjective experience indicated as symptoms (these are self-reports recorded by the physician), complemented with the so-called ‘signs’ or the presumably ‘objective’ observations of the overt behaviours of the patient. However, the cognitive content of clinical judgment is beyond any doubt as subjective as the narrative of the patient. None of the components of the structured psychopathological interview is independent of the inter-subjective system created in the situation of clinical assessment.

Conclusion

Therefore, the protocols from various clinicians that serve to sustain the reliability claim of the ‘scientific’ Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders cannot be regarded as independent measurements of the cognitive content and value of the psychological rating scales or vice versa.