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Reification and Psychiatry

A Tract Book Essay


Anthony J. Fejfar, B.A., J.D., Esq., Coif

© Copyright 2008 by Anthony J. Fejfar

Reification, is the idea that one can inauthentically take an abstract concept and

then treat it as if it is real or concrete. While I have previously argued that there is a

major conceptual problem with reification, I would like to put that argument on the back

burner and try a different approach.

In the past, Reification has been used to critique such concepts as liberty, justice,

law, etc., However, Reification has not, to my knowledge been used in the area of

psychiatry. I would like to argue that the major diagnostic categories for psychiatry are

in fact reified concepts and therefore invalid. Thus, I argue that schizophrenia, schizo-

affective disorder, and bipolar disorder are all reified concepts and therefore invalid.

Let us consider bipolar disorder, for example. First, psychiatry comes up with

the label “Bipolar Disorder,” gives that label a particular definition, and then

pronounces the disorder to be real or concrete. In fact, Bipolar disorder is simply made

up. Bipolar disorder is a reified concept. It is an empty abstraction which psychiatry

treats as being real, when it is not. Bipolar disorder is simply a social construct. This is

also true of schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.