The development of the criteria had been led by a trio of psychiatrists working together on the project for a medical model of psychiatric diagnosis since the late 1950s: Eli Robins, Samuel Guze and George Winokur.
Fourteen conditions were defined, including primary affective disorders (such as depression), schizophrenia, anxiety neurosis and antisocial personality disorder. In the early 1970s homosexuality was considered a psychiatric illness by the medical community, and was also included as one of the fourteen conditions.
The criteria were expanded in the publication of the Research Diagnostic Criteria on which many of the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM III (1980) were based, which in turn shaped the World Health Organization's ICD manual. "The historical record shows that the small group of individuals who created the Feighner criteria instigated a paradigm shift that has had profound effects on the course of American and, ultimately, world psychiatry."
- Feighner JP, Robins E, Guze SB, Woodruff RA, Winokur G, Munoz R (1972) Diagnostic criteria for use in psychiatric research. Archives of General Psychiatry. 26: 57-63 PMID 5009428
- A Tribute to Eli & Lee Robins - Citation Superstars. A Citationist Perspective on Biological Psychiatry - v12p321y1989.pdf
- Training at Washington University School of Medicine in Psychiatry in the late 1950s, from the perspective of an affective disorder researcher. Clayton PJ., J Affect Disord. 2006 May;92(1):13-7.
- The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual's Conquest of American Psychiatry Hannah Decker, Oxford University Press, 29 Mar 2013. Chapter 3.
- The Development of the Feighner Criteria: A Historical Perspective Kenneth S. Kendler, M.D.; Rodrigo A. Muñoz, M.D.; George Murphy, M.D. Am J Psychiatry 2009;167:134-142. 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09081155