Jerome C. Wakefield
University Professor; Professor of Social Work; Professor of the Conceptual Foundations of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine; Director, Project on Biometrics, Clinical Judgment, and Validity of Diagnostic Criteria, InSPIRES (Institute for Social and Psychiatric Initiatives: Research, Education and Service), Department of Psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine; Affiliate Faculty, NYU Bioethics Program; Affiliate Faculty, NYU Center for Ancient Studies.
BA Queens College (CUNY); MA, MSW, PhD, DSW, University of California at Berkeley
email@example.com | (212) 998-5934
Current Board memberships include:
Editorial Board, Clinical Social Work Journal
Editorial Board, Evolutionary Psychology
Editorial Board, Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences (Italy, pub. in Italian as Psicoterapia e scienze umane)
Editorial Board, Mens Sana Monographs (India, pub. in English) National Advisory Board, Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration
Member, WHO Conference Expert Group on the Public Health Implications of the Definition of Mental Disorder, World Health Organization Conference on Public Health Aspects of Diagnosis and Classification.
Three conferences were held in Paris in summer 2010 on themes in Professor Wakefield's work on depression.
Jerome C. Wakefield, DSW, PhD, has been University Professor and Professor in the School of Social Work at New York University since 2003. Prior to coming to NYU, he held faculty positions at University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Rutgers University. His clinical training and experience have been within the mental health field and were integrative, including psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, and family training, with work in agencies as well as private practice; he is currently a licensed clinical social worker in New Jersey. Overall, he has almost 30 years of experience within social work practice and education.
His scholarly specialty is the conceptual foundations of clinical theory. He is the author of over 130 publications appearing in journals and books in psychology, philosophy, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and social work, dealing with issues at the intersection of philosophy and the mental health professions. Much of his recent work has concerned the concept of mental disorder, especially how normal negative responses to a problematic social environment can be distinguished from mental disorder and how DSM diagnostic criteria fail to adequately draw this distinction. Rejecting both the anti-psychiatric critique that holds that there is no such thing as mental disorder other than as a label for socially disvalued conditions, and the standard psychiatric position that any well-defined syndromal set of symptoms can define a disorder, Dr. Wakefield argues for a middle ground position in which the concept of a physical or mental medical disorder is a hybrid value and scientific concept requiring both harm, assessed according to social values, and dysfunction, anchored in facts about evolutionary design. Unlike the anti-psychiatric view, the "harmful dysfunction" analysis offers a position from which to mount meaningful criticism and detailed suggestions for improvement of standard psychiatric diagnostic criteria based on assumptions about disorder that lie at the foundation of psychiatry itself. This work has been widely recognized; for example, in 1995, NIMH held a conference of leading researchers on conduct disorder devoted to exploring the implications of Dr. Wakefield's views for that field; in 1999, a special issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology was devoted to his views; his analysis is widely cited in abnormal psychology and introductory psychology textbooks; and many articles have appeared in journals devoted to analyzing and critiquing his views.
In addition to his work on mental disorder, Dr. Wakefield is known for his analysis of the profession of social work as a field properly concerned with "minimal distributive justice," a view which he has elaborated in a series of articles on the conceptual foundations of social work. In this work, using John Rawls's theory of justice as a framework, Dr. Wakefield attempts to integrate the traditional justice-oriented essential mission of social work with the profession's clinical focus. Dr. Wakefield has also made substantial contributions to the conceptual foundations of psychoanalysis, especially in a series of articles excavating the linkages between Freud's approach to the mind and current cognitive science approaches. Recent publications include critiques of some aspects of the "relational" approach to the mind in psychoanalysis. Other topics of his scholarship range from an elaboration of a Platonic version of Erikson's concept of generativity to the implications of Continental phenomenology for the psychoanalysis of personality disorders.
Current projects include a series of articles in preparation reanalyzing large community-sample epidemiological data sets using revised diagnostic criteria to achieve more valid estimates of disorder and unmet need for services; a book in preparation on how invalid diagnostic criteria for depressive disorder have contributed to the recent medicalization of normal forms of intense sadness; and, based on his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy, a book on Freud and philosophy of mind. Dr. Wakefield earned his BA from Queens College (CUNY), with concentrations in Philosophy, Psychology, and Mathematics. He holds an MSW in clinical social work, an MA in Mathematics with a specialization in Logic and Methodology of Science (George Kelley, Thesis Chair: Evolution of the theory of proportions in ancient Greek mathematics), and two doctoral degrees, in Social Welfare (Eileen Gambrill and William Runyan, Dissertation Co-Chairs: Psychosexual disorders: Studies in the role of psychotherapeutic ideology in diagnosis and treatment), and Philosophy (John Searle, Dissertation Chair: Do unconscious mental states exist?: Freud, Searle, and the conceptual foundations of cognitive science), all from U C Berkeley.
Dr. Wakefield has held post-doctoral fellowships in Women's Studies at Brown University, where he worked on the history of medical diagnoses of sexual dysfunction and the sex biases inherent in such diagnoses; Cognitive Science at University of California at Berkeley, where he worked on integrating psychodynamic theory with cognitive science; and Mental Health Services Research at Rutgers, where he worked on the validity of diagnostic criteria for mental disorder. He serves on the National Advisory Board of the Society for the Exploration of Psychotherapy Integration, is a Founding Fellow of the Council for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health, is an elected member of the Rapaport-Klein Study Group in Ego Psychology, and is a Lecturer in Psychiatry (Biometrics Unit) at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He also is an affiliate faculty of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research and the Center for Cognitive Studies, both at Rutgers University. He has served on the Editorial Boards of Social Work Research and Research on Social Work Practice, is currently on the Editorial Board of Psicoterapia e scienze umane , and is a regular peer reviewer for leading journals in social work, philosophy, psychiatry, and psychology.
In April 2007, Wakefield was the lead author of a paper published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, “Extending the Bereavement Exclusion for Major Depression to Other Losses: Evidence From the National Comorbidity Survey.” The article described ways that symptoms of intense sadness due to a variety of losses may resemble those of major depressive disorder (MDD), but may not indicate a mental disorder. The publication, which challenged conventional thinking on the manifestations of depression, also gained national and international coverage in outlets that included The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, BBC World News, The Boston Globe, National Public Radio, and ABC World News with Charles Gibson.
A book by Wakefield on this topic, written with Rutgers sociologist Allan Horwitz and titled “The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder,” has just been published by Oxford Press.
- Wakefield, J.C., Schmitz, M.F., First, M.B. & Horwitz, A.V. (2007). Extending the Bereavement Exclusion for Major Depression to Other Losses: Evidence From the National Comorbidity Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64:433-440.
- Spitzer, R. L., First, M.B., & Wakefield, J. C. (2007). Saving PTSD from itself in DSM-V. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 21, 233-241.
- Wakefield, J.C. (2007). What makes a mental disorder mental? Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 13, 123-131.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2007). Max Graf’s “Reminiscences of Professor Sigmund Freud” Revisited: New Evidence from the Freud Archives. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 76, 149-192.
- Wakefield, J. C. (Fall, 2006). Can relational Problems be genuine medical disorders? A harmful dysfunction perspective. The Family Psychologist, 22, 8-14.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2006). Is behaviorism becoming a pseudo-science?: Power versus scientific rationality in the eclipse of token economies by biological psychiatry in the treatment of schizophrenia. Behavior and Social Issues, 15, 202-221.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2006). High mental disorder rates are based on invalid measures: Questions about the claimed ubiquity of mutation-induced dysfunction. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29, 424-426.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2006). Are there relational disorders?: A harmful dysfunction perspective: Comment on the special section. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 423-427.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2006). Personality disorder as harmful dysfunction: DSM’s cultural deviance requirement reconsidered. Journal of Personality Disorders, 20, 157-169.
- Wakefield, J. C., Kirk, S. A., Pottick, K. J., Tian, X., & Hsieh, D. K. (2006). The lay concept of conduct disorder: Do non-professionals use syndromal symptoms or internal dysfunction to distinguish disorder from delinquency? Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51, 210-217.
- Horwitz, A. V., & Wakefield, J. C. (2006). The epidemic in mental illness: Clinical fact or survey artifact? Contexts: Understanding People in their Social Worlds, 5, 19-23.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). Biological function and dysfunction. D. Buss (Ed.), Handbook of evolutionary psychology (pp. 878-902). New York: Oxford Press.
- Wakefield, J. C., Horwitz, A. V., & Schmitz, M. (2005). Social disadvantage is not mental disorder: Response to Campbell-Sills and Stein. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 50, 324-326.
- Wakefield, J. C., Horwitz, A. V., & Schmitz, M. (2005). Are we overpathologizing social anxiety?: Social phobia from a harmful dysfunction perspective. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 50, 317-319.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). On winking at the facts, and losing one’s Hare: Value pluralism and the harmful dysfunction analysis. World Psychiatry 4, 88-89.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). Sexual dysfunction or pain disorder?: Dyspareunia from the perspective of the harmful dysfunction analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior 34, 52-57.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). Vaillant on positive mental health. Psicoterapia E Scienze Umane 39, 91-96. (in Italian)
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). Disorders versus problems of living in the DSM: Rethinking social work’s relationship to psychiatry. In Kirk, S. A. (Ed.), Mental disorders in the social environment: Critical perspectives (pp. 83-95). New York: Columbia University Press.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2005). Putting Humpty together again: Treatment of mental disorder and pursuit of justice as parts of social work’s mission. In Kirk, S. A., (Ed.) Mental disorders in the social environment: Critical perspectives (pp. 293-309). New York: Columbia University Press.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2004). The myth of open concepts: Meehl's analysis of construct meaning versus black box essentialism. Applied & Preventive Psychology, 11, 77-82.
- Eagle, M., Wakefield, J. C., & Wolitzky, D. (2003). Interpreting Mitchell's constructivism. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. 51 (Supplement), 163-180.
- Wakefield, J.C. (2003). Fodor on inscrutability. Mind and Language, 18, 524-537. Pottick, K.J., Wakefield, J.C., Kirk, S.A., & Tian, X. (2003). Influence of social workers' characteristics on the perception of mental disorder in youths. Social Service Review, 77, 431-454.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2003). Dysfunction as a factual component of disorder: Reply to Houts, Part 2. Behavior Research and Therapy, 41, 969-990.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2003). Gordon versus the Working Definition: Lessons from a classic critique. Research on Social Work Practice, 13, 284-298.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2003). The Chinese room argument reconsidered: Essentialism, indeterminacy, and strong AI. Minds and Machines, 13, 285-319.
- Wakefield, J. C., & First, M. (2003). Clarifying the distinction between disorder and non-disorder: Confronting the overdiagnosis ("false positives") problem in DSM-V. In K. A. Phillips, M. B. First, & H. A. Pincus (Eds.), Advancing DSM: Dilemmas in psychiatric diagnosis (pp. 23-56). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.
- Wakefield, J. C., Pottick, K. J., & Kirk, S. A. (2002). Should the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for conduct disorder consider social context? American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 380-386.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2002). Fixing a Foucault sandwich: Cognitive universals and cultural particulars in the concept of mental disorder. K. A. Cerulo (Ed.), Culture in mind: Toward a sociology of culture and cognition (pp. 245-266). New York: Routledge.
- Wakefield, J. C. (2002). Why specific design is not the mark of the adaptational. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 532-533.
- Eagle, M. N., Wolitzky, D. L., & Wakefield, J. C. (2001). The analyst's knowledge and authority: A critique of the "New View" in psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 49, 457-490.
- Wakefield, J.C. (2000). Aristotle as sociobiologist: The 'function of a human being' argument, black box essentialism, and the concept of mental disorder. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 7, 17-44.
- Spitzer, R. L., & Wakefield, J.C. (1999). DSM-IV diagnostic criterion for clinical significance: Does it help solve the false positives problem? American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 1856-1864.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1999). Evolutionary versus prototype analyses of the concept of disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 108, 374-399.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1999). The measurement of mental disorder. In A. V. Horwitz & T. L. Scheid (Eds.), A handbook for the study of mental health (pp. 29-57). New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Kirk, S. A., Wakefield, J.C., Hsieh, D., & Pottick, K. (1999). Social context and social workers' judgment of mental disorder. Social Service Review, 73, 82-104.
- Buss, D. M., Haselton, M. M. G., Shackelford, T. K., Bleske, A, & Wakefield, J. C. (1998). Adaptations, exaptations, and spandrels. American Psychologist., 53, 533-548.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1998). Foucauldian fallacies: An essay review of Leslie Margolin's Under the Cover of Kindness. Social Service Review, 72, 545-587.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1998). Meaning and melancholia: Why DSM cannot (entirely) ignore the patient's intentional system. In J. W. Barron (Ed.), Making diagnosis meaningful: Enhancing evaluation and treatment of psychological disorders (pp. 29-72). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1998). Immortality and the externalization of the self: Plato's unrecognized theory of generativity. In D. P. McAdams & E. de St. Aubin, Generativity and adult development : How and why we care for the next generation. (pp. 133-174). Washington: American Psychological Association Press.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1997). When is development disordered? Developmental psychopathology and the harmful dysfunction analysis of mental disorder. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 269-290.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1997). Diagnosing DSM-IV, Part 1: DSM-IV and the concept of mental disorder. Behavior Research and Therapy, 35, 633-650.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1996). Does social work need the ecological perspective?: Reply to Alex Gitterman. Social Service Review, 70, 476-481.
- Wakefield, J.C. (1996). Does social work need the eco-systems perspective?: Part 2. Does the perspective save social work from incoherence? Social Service Review, 70, 183-213.
- Wakefield, J.C. (1996). Does social work need the eco-systems perspective?: Part 1. Is the perspective clinically useful? Social Service Review, 70, 1-32.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1994). Social work and social control: A reply to Austin. Social Service Review, 68, 440-453.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1993). Philosophy of science and the evaluation of clinical theory: A reply to the Piepers. Social Service Review, 67, 654-666.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1993). Is altruism part of human nature? Toward a theoretical foundation for the helping professions. Social Service Review, 67, 406-458.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1993). Psychoanalytic fallacies: Reflections on Martha Heineman Pieper and William Joseph Pieper's Intrapsychic Humanism. Social Service Review, 67, 127-155.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1993). Limits of operationalization: A critique of Spitzer and Endicott's (1978) proposed operational criteria for mental disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102, 160-172.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1992). The concept of mental disorder: On the boundary between biological facts and social values. American Psychologist, 47, 373-388.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1992). Disorder as harmful dysfunction: A conceptual critique of DSM-III-R's definition of mental disorder. Psychological Review, 99, 232-247.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1992). Why psychotherapeutic social work don't get no re-Specht. Social Service Review, 66, 141-151.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1992). Freud and cognitive psychology: The conceptual interface. In J. Barron, M. Eagle & D. Wolitzky (Eds.), Interface of psychoanalysis and psychology (pp. 77-98). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1992). Freud and the intentionality of affect. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 9, 1-23.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1991). Why emotions can't be unconscious: An exploration of Freud's essentialism. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 14, 29-67.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1990). Why instinctual impulses can't be unconscious: An exploration of Freud's cognitivism. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 13, 265-288.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1990). Is Freud's concept of instinct incoherent?: Resolving Strachey's dilemma. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 13, 241-264.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1989). Levels of explanation in personality theory. In D. Buss and N. Cantor (Eds.), Personality psychology: Recent trends and emerging directions (pp. 333-346). New York: Springer-Verlag.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1988). Psychotherapy, distributive justice, and social work: I. Distributive justice as a conceptual framework for social work. Social Service Review, 62, 187-210.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1988). Psychotherapy, distributive justice, and social work: II. Psychotherapy and the pursuit of justice. Social Service Review, 62, 353-382.
- Wakefield, J. C. (1987). Sex bias in the diagnosis of primary orgasmic disorder. American Psychologist, 42, 464-471.
Wakefield has recently been a peer reviewer for the following journals: Peer Reviewer, American Journal of Psychiatry, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Philosophy of Science, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Archives of General Psychiatry, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Psychological Medicine, American Psychologist, Psychological Review, Psychological Bulletin, Social Service Review, Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Ancient Philosophy, Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, Psychoanalytic Psychology, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review, and Evolutionary Psychology, as well as for the Oxford Press Psychiatry Division.