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The Swedish translation of DSM-5 “Gambling Disorder”: Reflections on nosology and terminology

Magazine article
Authors Per Binde
David Forsström
Published in Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Volume 32
Issue 2
Pages 219-226
ISSN 1455-0725
Publication year 2015
Published at School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology
Pages 219-226
Language en
Keywords disordered gambling, pathological gambling, psychiatry, nosology, dsm
Subject categories Social Anthropology, Substance Abuse, Psychiatry


Summary: We discuss the translation into Swedish of the term Gambling Disorder (GD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Translations and adaptions of psychiatric classifications across languages and cultures are not just a technical matter but require consideration of differences in conceptualisation of mental conditions and behaviours perceived to be harmful or undesirable. Psychiatric nosology is a taxonomic system in which mental disorders are classified and labelled. In themselves, the labels suggest the character of specific disorders. As components in a system, the labels distinguish disorders from each other and help to place them in a structure that reflects psychiatric theories. The names of the labels are chosen mainly on the basis of the meanings and associations they have in the field of psychiatry. However, the meanings and connotations of the names in everyday language and in various parts of society are also considered – there is a “dialectic between categories and experience” (Lee, 1996). This dialectic is part of the societal context in which psychiatry is embedded; the etiology, symptomatology, treatment and overall perception of psychiatric disorders are influenced by moral judgements, social norms, cultural values and institutional structures specific to societies and cultures. We first briefly outline the revisions in DSM-5 with regard to GD. Then we discuss the challenges in translating “gambling” and “disorder” into Swedish, given the differences in the semantic fields of these terms in Swedish compared to English. Finally, we comment on the suitability of the term "hasardspelsyndrom" - which is the translation into Swedish of GD - from a theoretical perspective, in the context of Swedish health policy and how it might influence the discourse surrounding gambling in everyday language.

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