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Jan 11

The A.P.A.: From uto.P.A. to dysto.P.A.

As if the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) wasn’t enough of a travesty, psychiatrists are already hard at work on its successor. Although the DSM-V is still a few years away from publication, controversy over the next incarnation of the psychiatric bible has already arisen. Stricken with an apparent change of heart, Allen Frances, the psychiatrist who chaired the task force that developed the DSM-IV, has revealed that he is severely worried about the societal repercussions that the DSM-V may have come its release atop psychiatrists’ desks nationwide.

Frances rather candidly admits that the DSM-IV has done a disservice to society, by misleadingly labeling certain difficulties in living as mental illnesses, thus giving psychiatrists free reign over those “suffering” from these so-called illnesses. Should the recently released draft of the DSM-V be any indication of the final product, there is a serious risk that it may just end up doing the exact same sort of harm its predecessor has done… So watch out people: what is normal today might be pathological tomorrow. Come the advent of the DSM-V, we might suddenly find ourselves struggling with a mental illness we didn’t have the day before its publication!

For more details on Frances’ arguments, check out his recent article in the Los Angeles Times.

For a preview of the next DSM, head over to the American Psychiatric Association’s The Future of Diagnosis website.

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