Re-evaluating psychiatry as a human science (i.e. as an approach to inter-subjectivity) and not only as a natural science, entails that diagnosis cannot maintain an impersonal categorical dimension, as it takes into account interpersonal features and problems. What does an anthropological, not naturalistic, definition of illness mean in the context of clinical psychiatry and of the recognition of mental distress? Symptoms, in psychiatry, as Kurt Schneider stated clearly, have little to do with a reductive naturalistic definition of disease, but are expression of life experiences, historically and subjectively significant, and are thus also to be interpreted. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that there are no facts, only interpretations of facts. Accordingly, in psychiatry, a diagnosis (that usefully differentiates neurotic from psychotic symptoms) changes in relation to the intensity of the patient- therapist relationship. The diagnosis, in short, is an experience, it cannot be pigeonholed, as a petrified expression of different symptoms, in a previously established syndromic pattern.
Keywords: Diagnosis, psychiatry, science of inter-subjectivity, life experience