The “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” produced by the American Psychiatric Association is an interesting document from a conceptual standpoint. In order to count the number of individuals with a particular disorder and to make the numbers comparable regardless of source, there has to be clear criteria guiding the ontology. This document therefore serves an important ontological purpose. By the way, given that some dictionaries don’t include the word, ontology is the study of being. Ontology for example can indicate when things come into existence or become recognized: it is particularly important for data developers.
The American Psychiatric Association updates the manual periodically. It is currently in its fifth incarnation. Already between the 4th and 5th release, there are some differences in interpretation. For example, pedophilia plainly described as a disorder in the 4th edition has become more of a sexual preference in the 5th edition. It is important therefore to be aware of the context of a term such as “disorder.” Indeed, the entire manual has to be regarded in relation to its context. It supports clinical diagnoses. If I were to point out a man repetitively lifting while avoiding conversation, this is not at all unusual if he works at a conveyor belt and is paid to lift boxes. He might find himself in an accident if he spends too much time talking to coworkers. The abnormality from a production standpoint would be to avoid lifting in order to chat about something unrelated.
The manual is diagnostic in nature indicating that certain behaviours are already known or considered to be problematic. In contrast, a more generic document of ontological criteria could be used to generate data perhaps in order to study patterns of behaviour. Many terms in the manual will be immediately familiar even for those that read it for the first time; but I would say that some terms are quite unusual. An ontological reference provides a useful conceptual baseline: for example, a “frotteuristic disorder” involves somebody rubbing against another person. One that I invented in relation to employees is called a “captive audience disorder”: this is when an employee uses an interaction with a client as an opportunity to inflate their own ego; assert control; speak about inappropriate concerns; or converse in an intimate or highly familiar manner.
While captive audience disorder (CAD) will probably never appear in the psychiatric association’s manual, I hope many would agree this is genuinely a problem if it occurs in a production environment. It suggests that the employee has a desire for attention and recognition. This person might suffer from low self-esteem. Since an ontological reference is not necessarily diagnostic, there is no need to jump to conclusions about what the disorder “means.” A conversation with the client can be encoded as CAD to indicate that an incident attributable to the production disorder occurred. CAD events can be tabulated, followed, and compared for the entire organization or specific individuals to assess the impacts to production.
Another useful application of the manual, which I will now describe as the “DSM Model,” would be to invoke classifications for different types of clients. By the way, the letters DSM were my initials before I had my name anglicized. (This is a CAD event.) In a sense, it seems unusual for companies to toil daily without some sense of its type of clientele and changes to the client-types. It would be useful to note the distribution of different types particularly in relation to individual employees since assertions of performance might be affected.
A few blogs ago, I mentioned how people were talking about automating certain aspects of data collection and reporting essentially to remove my involvement from the process. I don’t actually mind as I am quite busy. I notice that automation is much less likely when the ontology is very specific. More precisely, the environment giving rise to the phenomenon is quite non-specific, and the phenomenon is entwined therein. There are all sorts of stats available pertaining to violent crime; on the other hand, data pertaining to threats or impulsive threats are less easily obtained. For the data to exist, it is necessary to ascertain or define when something is threatening, why it is a considered a threat, given what type of context. A “violent act” is often apparent and more universally recognized. The world that is frightening or upsetting, unproductive or unprofitable, here there is much less visibility and a greater need for the development and application of recognition criteria.