The Development of American Psychiatry’s Professional Style: DSM-III’s “Common Language”

Main Article Content

Patty A. Kelly


This article analyzes psychiatrists’ metadiscourse about the textual standardiza­tion of discourse practices in the third edition of the American Psychiatric Asso­ciation’s diagnostic manual, DSM-III (1980). I argue that DSM-III’s “common language” represents the development of a professional style for American psy­chiatry, and I suggest that the codification of that style in DSM-III results in a handbook of usage. One of the professional aims of the textual standardization of the diagnostic manual is to position psychiatrists as scientists who use scientific standards of practice and scientific research methods to produce psychiatric knowledge. As a consequence, the chief style attributes of DSM-III help deter­mine the chief professional attributes such that the textual standardization of the profession’s diagnostic manual becomes inseparable from the standardization of psychiatric knowledge.

Article Details

Special Issue