More BS on the DSM

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)

Additional commentary here:

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.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

8 Responses

  1. In my opinion, alone the fact, that they as much as considered confidentiality instead of complete transparency, tells unmistakably what all this is about. It’s definitely not about science. Would anyone ever as much as consider that a discussion about in how far let’s say the flu is a disease of its own, worth its own diagnostic criteria etc. should take place under strict confidentiality??

    I must admit that it is completely beyond me how anyone can keep on believing psychiatry would be a medical science – all the while the institution itself actually is shouting it from the roof tops: “No, we aren’t. We’re all about monetary profit. Nothing else.”


  2. This made me laugh:

    One syndrome under discussion at the time was “chronic complaint disorder.”

    Its supposed sufferers were largely “of Eastern European ancestry” and revealed their malady when asked how things are going.

    “In those cases,” the psychiatrists wrote, “the pathognomonic expression becomes, ‘Oy vey, don’t ask.’ “

    Hope you’re well Gianna, and that you had a merry xmas – you too Marian. Dx


  3. — sorry, been playing catch up on the reading, or if not the reading, the comprehension at any rate. —

    Sorry you didn’t have a good one Gianni. 😦

    Damn blogs, we read backwards, and not always all at once. Take care, D.


  4. catherine

    Definitely not science. It seems that the DSM has turned from something that would help guide a clinician to something that dictates whether or not treatment can even be “covered” under insurance.


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