We’ve know that diagnosis has an important role in adjudicating. In the courtroom, a diagnosis may absolve an individual from guilt for illegal actions. But, it may also, as this article reveals, be used to describe suitability for parenting in custody cases.
The author of this paper takes exception to its use, pointing out both the fallibility of the DSM as a diagnostic source, and the utility of diagnoses as a tool for judging whether or not an individual is a suitable parent.
More than anything else, this typifies the shorthand of diagnosis. It is used, just one word (or maybe three) to encapsulate much, much more. The diagnosis is expected to convey information not about a person’s illness, but about their way of living, their ability to perform social functions and their moral standing.
It’s not just in the courtroom that diagnostic shorthand is prevalent. Even “Sorry, I’ve got a cold” says “don’t get too close, I am contagious”, “can’t work to hard, because I don’t feel well,” “won’t be at training today.” and so on.
What other shorthand purposes can diagnosis serve?