DSM psychiatry manual’s secrecy criticized
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is being revised under a cloak of confidentiality. Critics say the process needs to be open, and cite potential conflicts of interest.
By Ron Grossman LA Times
Whether revisions to the bible of mental illness should be carried out in secret might seem like an academic question.
But the issue carries real weight for parents desperate to address children’s difficult behavior or people in distress over their mental state. It also speaks to citizens’ concerns over news accounts of an overmedicated America and of the troubling financial links between some psychiatric researchers and the pharmaceutical industry.
An update is underway for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM, which defines the emotional problems for which doctors prescribe drugs and insurance companies pay the treatment bills. Psychiatrists working on the new edition were required to sign a strict confidentiality agreement.
Critics contend that the American Psychiatric Assn. should allow outside observers to review the scientific debate behind new and revised diagnoses.
Among the most prominent to speak out is the editor of the manual’s third edition, Dr. Robert Spitzer, hailed by peers as the most influential psychiatrist of his generation. If the DSM is often called the profession’s bible, then the DSM-III is the King James Version. Released in 1980, it set the standard by which others are measured.
Recently, Spitzer broke ranks by publishing an open letter to the profession protesting the confidentiality mandate. (rest of article)
What is it? The DSM is the authoritative psychiatric handbook defining mental disorders.
What’s new? The American Psychiatric Assn. is revising it. The new version is expected in 2012.
Why does it matter? Prescriptions for psychiatric drugs are written in accordance with the DSM. Courts, social workers and insurance companies also use it in their decisions.
Why the fuss? Authors of the forthcoming fifth edition are pledged to secrecy, leading others to question whether science should be done behind closed doors. Disclosures of financial links between psychiatrists and drug companies raise the question: Is this a search for truth or for profits? Meanwhile, critics worry we’re becoming a nation too quick to reach for pills. (emphasis mine)
How in hell can the DSM be considered science?? There is not a single scientific test out there to measure anything that is called a “diagnosis” in the DSM. That’s part of the problem right there. People think that because people with MDs make these labels up they are by default scientific.
And let’s not forget these “scientists” are allowed to make up to $10,000 a year from Pharma and that’s not considered a conflict of interest.