Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Elizabeth Wissinger

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Theory and Philosophy


premenstrual dysphoric disorder, critical psychiatry, critical psychology, psychiatric nosology


The creation of psychiatric diagnoses, otherwise known as psychiatric nosology, is a complex endeavor, one involving a great deal of social construction. One diagnosis in particular, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), exemplifies the different factors that go into the creation of psychiatric labels. After decades of research, activism, and debates, PMDD was included in the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM-5), which is widely used by clinicians in the U.S. This thesis aims to describe how the symptoms described by PMDD caught the attention of the medical profession and how PMDD was shaped into the diagnosis it is today. The introduction of my thesis will provide a definition of PMDD and explain what makes it an interesting case study in psychiatric nosology. The following section, chapter 2, will contemplate what constitutes a mental disorder, while chapter 3 will explain why this question is important. Chapter 4 will give an overview of the history of the PMDD diagnosis. Finally, chapter 5 will detail and critique the debates for and against including the PMDD diagnosis in the DSM-5. The final chapter of my thesis will conclude with some considerations for using the PMDD diagnosis today.