Gregg R. Henriques - University of Pennsylvania
Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., Science Center Room 2029, 3535 Market St., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-2648; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wakefield's Harmful Dysfunction Analysis (HDA) for distinguishing disorders from nondisorders has received much attention in the literature. Although the analysis has many strengths, Wakefield (1999a, 1999b) fails to appropriately capture the nature of the disorder construct, thereby leading to much confusion. A solution is offered suggesting that disorder can be thought of as a utilitarian construct. When viewed in this light, the HDA offers an excellent and useful definition of disease for medicine. However, the HDA fails as a useful definition for mental disorders because it contains a greedily reductionistic error that suggests that all mental disorders are reducible to biological theory. An alternative way of conceptualizing mental disorders is offered and it is suggested that the HDA's success in defining disease provides an important piece that allows mental health scientists both begin to answer which mental disorders are akin to medical diseases and which mental disorders are not.