The classification of mental illness—enshrined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—has historically followed a categorial model of disorder. However, in light of psychiatry's failure to validate these diagnostic categories, psychiatrists have developed dimensional models for understanding and classifying disorders, such as the National Institute of Mental Health's Research Domain Criteria initiative. Although some philosophers have recently contributed to the literature on dimensional approaches to psychiatric research and classification, no sustained engagement has yet been offered by continental phenomenologists. In this article, I argue that phenomenological research can benefit from a broadly dimensional orientation—albeit one that differs in many respects from the Research Domain Criteria. Developing this argument, I motivate, outline, and illustrate a phenomenological–dimensional approach. In so doing, I show how a dimensional orientation can circumvent problems stemming from the use of current diagnostic categories as a guide to psychiatric research. In addition, I argue that a dimensional orientation need not conflict with more traditional phenomenological approaches, such as the core gestalt model, and can even complement and support such approaches.


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pp. 65-75
Launched on MUSE
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