Many different professions may be involved in studying mental illness
or distress. Most notably, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are
particularly interested in this area and may either be involved in clinical
treatment of mental illness, or research into the origin, development
and manifestations of such states, or often, both. More widely, many different
specialties may be involved in the study of psychopathology. For example,
a neuroscientist may focus on brain changes related to mental illness.
Therefore, someone who is referred to as a psychopathologist, may be one
of any number of professions who have specialised in studying this area.
Psychiatrists in particular are interested in descriptive psychopathology,
which has the aim of describing the symptoms and syndromes of mental illness.
This is both for the diagnosis of individual patients (to see whether
the patient's experience fits any pre-existing classification), or for
the creation of diagnostic systems (such as the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders) which define exactly which signs and symptoms
should make up a diagnosis, and how experiences and behaviours should
be grouped in particular diagnoses (e.g. clinical depression, schizophrenia).