A universal problem encountered in all social, medical and behavioral science research is the coherent and rational operationalization of the formal and conceptual categories that have been elaborated through previous work. This intrinsic problem is compounded by the equally universal one of the difficulty of communicating and comparing scientific research results from different disciplines, as well as from different cultures, languages or nations. The World Health Organization for instance has clearly stressed the chronic difficulty in securing any common rubric for a disease diagnosis that involves biological, psychological and sociological considerations (WHO, 1981). The universality of these problems implies the corollary that progress in a particular domain may lead to progress in all domains of social and behavioral science research. In this chapter we will illustrate a new cross-classification approach (van Meter, 1986) using psychiatric and drug abuse data obtained by a new method of evaluating illness behavior and experience, the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) (deVries, 1987; Csikszentmihalyi & Larson, 1984).
Syndromes, classifications and models
Today, although recommendations are often made to refine classification and diagnostic systems by including syndromes, patterns and models, it is the underlying difficulty of operationalizing and executing such revisions that often blocks the implementation in research that would lead to the creation of a new system. Much confusion and error are also introduced by the way terms are generally employed. For example, classification and diagnoses are often coupled and presented as interchangeable or equivalent while in fact they are different processes.