Mental disorders and psychopathology are best understood as products of human history and society, and attempts should be made to characterise them as some form of universal, scientific constructs. Mental illnesses are, in a very literal sense, a product of human ingenuity. However, this does not in any way imply that they are not real. Instead, our understanding of what constitutes normal behaviour and what does not is shaped by a wide range of factors, including social and cultural forces, political and economic systems, and the particular professional groups that wield the most power and sway at the time that new definitions are being drafted. Therefore, mental illnesses are examples of social constructions, which refer to ideas that are developed by a specific community (in this case, the committee members of the DSM Work Groups, who are in turn influenced by researchers, clinicians, politicians, lay people, industry, religious beliefs, and more).

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