Thursday, 7 March 2013

The huge problems with the new system of psychiatric diagnosis

The American Psychiatric Association publishes a manual for diagnosing mental disorders, called the DSM. This year they are publishing the 5th edition ("DSM-5") - in principle, an updated and more accurate version.

In practice, its revisions have been met with widespread dismay and alarm. In fact, I have yet to read anything positive about it.

Dr Doom! Image by JD Hancock.

Among the concerns that have been raised are the following:
Perhaps the most damning verdict comes from Prof. Allen Frances who chaired the previous review of DSM. He states: "DSM 5 remains a reckless and poorly written document that will worsen diagnostic inflation, increase inappropriate treatment, create stigma, and cause confusion among clinicians and the public" (source here).

What is your view of the state of psychiatric diagnosis? Are you worried about mental illness being over-diagnosed, or about the treatments used?


7 comments:

  1. You make some great points. At the elementary school where I teach, we have a lot of Aspberger's kids. Our resource teacher is a specialist in autism and readily agrees that we are all SOMEWHERE on the autism spectrum and in that sense so are these kids. I had five in a class of 30 last year--they aren't treated any differently by their peers because they ARE 'normal' in our school. So in my class, I see 'less autistic' and 'more autistic' kids. :)

    Linda Ulleseit

    http://ulleseit.wordpress.com

    http://flyinghorsebooks.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think there's lots of problems with the whole psychiatric treatment system, such as you listed above. When do we stop being mentally ill and start being mentally healthy, if everything is labeled as an illness. And on the other hand noticing and treating REAL problems seems to get forgot.

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  3. Hi there,
    I have found your nice blog, which I really like it. I enjoyed to read your posts and stories.
    I was wondering if you would be interested in sharing your posts and ideas on Glipho? It's a quite new social publishing platform for bloggers like you. :)

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  4. Hello, thanks for the Twitter follow :)

    Nice article. I'm currently reading 'The Myth of Mental Illness' by Thomas Szasz which is really excellent, have you come across him? Szasz makes many brilliant and logical points and concludes ultimately that 'mental illness' is not an illness per se. I am in the process of being swayed over to his side. He in no way discounts the fact that problems exist - but he believes that defining them as an illness is inherently wrong; the DSM is a hindrance. I'm starting to agree really...

    Emma

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  5. Thanks for the comments :)
    @edhaz I'd agree that Szasz makes some important points, not least that the concept of psychological problems as 'illness' is only an analogy, and sometimes not a very good one - that's often forgotten nowadays. People say things like 'depression is an illness like any other'. This is mostly well-meaning (trying to reduce stigma) but depression is really not like flu or chicken pox in many respects.

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  6. Just two weeks before DSM-5 is due to appear, the National Institute of Mental Health, the world's largest mental health research institute, has announced that it is withdrawing support for the manual:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/side-effects/201305/the-nimh-withdraws-support-dsm-5

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just two weeks before DSM-5 is due to appear, the National Institute of Mental Health, the world's largest mental health research institute, has announced that it is withdrawing support for the manual:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/side-effects/201305/the-nimh-withdraws-support-dsm-5

    ReplyDelete