Dr.med. Othmar Mäser, Psychiater Psychotherapie

regulative term (concept)

A regulative term is the term of a mere idea which is defined in relation to other terms of this kind. (vgl.  mit Kant quotation 4)

Such a term refers to an idea which is based on experience but it is not possible to prove such an idea on a physical basis. (more on this subject on Poster 6: Diagnosis in Psychiatry – the Role of Biological Markers – an investigation in the light of Immanuel Kant`s philosophy)

A term representing a psychological idea is such a term (–> Kant quotation 4). Such terms define and ”regulate” the information people arrive at in communication. For example in a psychiatric interview a professional doing the investigation arrives a certain terms representing certain psychological and psycho-pathological phenomena. By listening to the person by talking to the person and hearing what the person says and seeing his or her reaktions the professional attains certain perceptions and conceives this information in relation to specific psycho-pathological phenomena represented by certain terms. If this information appears to him to be of pathological relevance. In this way the person arrives at personal persuasion certain psycho-pathological phenomena to be present (compare Kant quotation 9). In this way psychological concepts definie and regulate psychological information and make it possible to discribe and communicate this information. In this way for example different personality disorders as they are described in the psychiatric categories of the ICD-10 classification or in the book of Carol W. Berman can be distinguished one from another.

As Kant writes in quotation 9 this information depends on personal grounds and therefore it is not objective knowledge but subjective knolwledge. In psychiatry almost every professional arrives at the same description if a case is typical. If a case is not typical in general different professionals often do not arrive at the same diagnostic result because they arrive at different phenomena and finally a different diagnostic concepts.

So one can easily see that regulative terms of this kind are relative in validity. They are relativ in relation to the idea applied and relative in relation the classification applied if e.g. DSM classification is applied or psychiatric ICD classification is applied.

Therefore when using psychological and psychiatric terms one should be aware of this relativity and limits of knowledge (compare to Kant quotation 3) and therefore use such terms in a relativistic way. (compare to Kant quotation 4)

(last update 28.3.2011)

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Link to medical diagnosis – psychiatric diagnosis

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