There is a new book out that you have probably never heard of, and even more likely have never read even though it is on the Amazon top 100 list. (It was number 7 when I wrote this post a few days ago.) But it’s very important to all of us. It is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), and it is the bible, so to speak, in the world of psychology and psychiatry. Being the last word in defining mental disorders and their symptoms, it has a huge influence on which mental health treatments insurance companies pay for, some legal matters, what special needs and mental health programs school systems put in place for our children, and which medications will be used to treat each mental disorder. As with the previous editions, DSM-5 is controversial. Some people dislike the changes in classification of certain mental disorders, some decry its lack of objectivity, and some say that it is flawed because many of the people who made the decisions concerning it have close ties to pharmaceutical companies.
One of the biggest objections has to do with the classification of things like grieving over the death of a loved one as a mental disorder if it lasts more than a very short period of time, and turning temper tantrums into something called “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.” And college students who drink excessively will more readily be termed alcoholics though many of them will become only moderate drinkers once they mature. Some predict that more than half of us will be labeled with mental disorders as a result of DSM-5 – and will face the stigma that accompanies that label.
Below you will find two articles about the DSM-5:
A Time magazine article defending the DSM-5
An interview with Gary Greenberg author of The Book of Woes: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry which highlights his concerns about the DSM-5
I am also including an interview with Greenberg that was shown recently on Book TV. The interview is about so much more than the DSM-5 issue that it is well worth watching. For instance Greenberg says that psychiatrists often make a diagnosis of a patient’s problems (that is, give it a name) so they can get paid by the insurance companies. He added that psychiatrists often choose a diagnosis that is somewhat general and not too stigmatizing whenever possible.