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Clinical Implications of Historical Development of the DSM through Examining Two Main Disorders Open Access


Other title
Asperger's Disorder
fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
fetal alcohol syndrome
mental disorder
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Sanders, James Ladell
Supervisor and department
Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Whelton, William (Educational Psychology)
Clarren, Sterling (Developmental Neurosciences & Child Health, University of British Columbia)
Dust, Thomas (Secondary Education)
Larsen, Denise (Educational Psychology)
Robertson, Scot (History)
Department of Educational Psychology
Psychological Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
As a gateway to support for those who experience significant distress or impairment as a result of cognitive, affective, developmental, social, environmental, or other personal/interpersonal challenges, mental disorder diagnosis is a common practice in mental health professions. In order to practice effectively and ethically, diagnosticians should develop a keen understanding of the diagnostic guidelines they follow in research and practice. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) is a dominant diagnostic classification used throughout the world. Because it impacts innumerable lives in significant ways, the DSM should be used judiciously by diagnosticians. By understanding the history and development of the DSM within a clinical backdrop, diagnosticians can better understand the fundamental strengths and limitations of this hegemonic manual. In addition, understanding the history and development of specific mental disorders can help diagnosticians better understand the conditions they diagnose and facilitate a more rigorous and careful diagnostic process. This thesis uses paper format, where each chapter stands as its own study. Using a paper thesis format, dissemination via peer-reviewed journals is more easily facilitated so that the papers may be available to a wide body of readership in order to promote more judicious use of the DSM and mental disorder diagnosis. Variations of four chapters in this paper-format dissertation have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and a fifth has been accepted and is in press. In addition to a review of the historical developments of the DSM, I review the historical developments of autism and Asperger’s Disorder, developmental disorders within the current edition of the DSM, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), a developmental disorder that is not in the current edition of the DSM but has been proposed for a future edition. Finally, recommendations for ethical and effective diagnostic practice using the DSM or other diagnostic guidelines are provided.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Sanders, J.L. (In press). “A Window of Opportunity”: The proposed inclusion of FASD in the DSM-5. Journal on Developmental Disabilities.Sanders, J.L. (2011). A Distinct Language and a Historic Pendulum: The Evolution of the DSM. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25(6), 394-403.Sanders, J.L. (2011). What might have been: Sullivan may have impacted modern prenatal alcohol research under different circumstances. International Journal of Epidemiology, 40, 283-285.Sanders, J.L. (2009). Qualitative or quantitative differences between Asperger’s disorder and autism? Historical considerations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(11), 1560-1567.Sanders, J.L. (2009). Were our forebears aware of prenatal alcohol exposure and its effects? A review of the history of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 16(2), e288-95.

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