Epidemiology: • EPIDEMIOLOGY - the study of the distribution of diseases in the population. • The field of psychiatric epidemiology is based on the idea that there is, or can be, a "true" rate or prevalence of mental disorder, just as there is a "true" rate of cancer or AIDS. • Essentialist assumption - mental disorder is a concrete entity on whose reality all reasonable and informed observers can agree. • Constructionist - mental disorder is a socially determined judgment, the "true" rate or prevalence of mental illness can not be determined. They are interested in how mental disorder is conceptualized and defined, how certain categories in the population come to be designated as having higher, or lower, rates of mental disorder and what extra psychiatric factors influence rates of institutionalization. "All epidemiologists agree that measuring mental disorder in the population, or in certain segments of the population is problematic. There is a huge non-institutionalized segment of the population who would be diagnosed as mentally
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