Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work and Social Research


This study is a partial replication of a quantitative study of social work clinicians’ attitudes toward the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) conducted by Herb Kutchins and Stuart Kirk in 1988, when the sway of the DSM was rapidly expanding. The present study also includes a qualitative analysis of interviews with individual social workers. Results show that these social workers, clearly influenced by professional practices and sociocultural discourses that have favored the medicalization of human problems, are distinctly more ambivalent toward the DSM than were their 1988 counterparts, who were more emphatic in their rejection of the manual. However, social workers in this study demonstrated unease with the manual and what it represents sufficient to suggest that they might be encouraged collectively to champion a new method of assessment that is more congruent with social work’s mission and values.


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