Stop the DSM5: two actions to take now

From an email from Paula Caplan this morning:

Stop the DSM5

In response to the intransigence of those who write the psychiatric diagnostic manual, it is time to take action. The PLAN T Alliance (please see below) is doing just that.

Everyone, please forward this to any individual or organization that cares about the harm being done by psychiatric labeling.

If you are a professional who has the credentials and power to assign psychiatric labels, please go to Pledge to Boycott the DSM  and sign the pledge. 

From the PLAN T Alliance.

(PLAN T stands for Psychiatric Labeling Action Network for Truth.) It is increasingly clear that the editors of the major psychiatric manual, which reaps huge profits for the American Psychiatric Association that publishes it, are ignoring the massive evidence of harm done by the labels of previous editions of the manual and of likely harm from what they plan to put in the edition they are now preparing. Because we are deeply concerned about the lack of science behind the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the absence of evidence that it helps in identifying effective treatments, the absence of evidence that helps with outcome, and the abundance of evidence of people being seriously harmed by receiving a psychiatric label, as well as because the editors of the previous, current, and in-preparation editions of the DSM have been largely unresponsive to concerns expressed about these problems, we take the following pledge:

“I will not purchase any form of any edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). I understand that it is not necessary to use it in most places, because the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) can be used instead, and because both the ICD and DSM are available for free online.”(see and for examples and relevant research)

Also from November 10th, Allen Frances MD, (psychiatrist and former chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and currently professor emeritus at Duke) continues his plea to derail the DSM5 in his latest article in Psychiatric Times. Please reinvigorate the signing of that petition here, as it already has over 7,000 signatures and I think Frances’ argument that getting well over 10,000 signatures is essential.

Together with the above pledge to boycott this petition becomes stronger.

From Psychiatric Times:

When it comes to DSM-5, experience has proven conclusively that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will not attend to the science, evaluate the risks, or listen to reason. A user’s revolt has become the last and only hope for derailing the worst of the DSM-5 suggestions.

Why might this work? The APA budget depends heavily on publishing profits. DSM’s sell over 100,000 copies and generate about $5 million in profits even in a dull year. This is multiplied several fold at the golden moment when any new DSM is introduced. Meaningful reform will occur only if DSM-5 faces the serious risk of a user’s boycott (replacing it with what will be the freely available ICD-10-CM). Certainly, in any sensible world, this threat should have no part in the way diagnostic decisions are made. But DSM-5 is more of an Alice in Wonderland world—what should count least (or not at all) may now count most.

Will the petition work? It certainly faces an uphill struggle. APA will have to be shaken out of its inherent leaden complacency which has been further enhanced by the fact that DSM-IV-TR is still selling extremely well even though presumably it will soon be obsolete. The accepted APA wisdom is that the DSM monopoly over diagnosis is so strong and its audience so captive (particularly among students) that criticisms about DSM-5 content, however widespread and damning, can be simply and safely ignored.

The only serious challenge to this APA obstinacy is the Petition To Reform DSM-5. But the petition poses a significant threat to sales only if so many people sign that DSM-5 finds itself thoroughly discredited in the eyes of both the mental health professions and the general public. I don’t know what is the magic number of signers—but probably it is somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000. Ten thousand signers would almost certainly be too few—treated by APA as merely a drop in the huge book buyers’ market. My guess is that 50,000 would seal the deal and force APA to throw in its weak DSM-5 hand by eliminating its riskiest suggestions. The actual tipping point is probably somewhere in between—who knows where?

The APA stance will also be influenced by how devastating is the media response and the public reaction. Reporters quickly come to understand the great public health risks posed by DSM-5 suggestions that all promote diagnostic inflation and loose prescription habits. Actually anyone not working on DSM-5 seems to appreciate this almost instinctively. News stories about DSM-5 are uniformly negative unless they are generated by APA press releases or appear in its own house organ. The question is how much and how prominent will be the press coverage generated by the DSM-5 petition. My guess is that it will be extensive and extremely critical of DSM-5 and may embarrass it into reform. But this remains to be seen…..

….But there is also no room whatever for complacency—only a really massive response will force the sleeping leadership of APA to take the corrective action of rejecting the riskiest of the DSM-5 proposals. For anyone seriously concerned about the unintended consequences of DSM-5, the bottom line is clear. Please send the petition ( to 5 of your colleagues so that they may judge whether they would like to join.

Exponential growth is the essential key to the petition’s success—and so far the growth of the petition has been no more than linear. Only the resounding voice of the people will save DSM-5 from itself. rest of article

On November 17, Frances wrote another post asking: Can APA Ignore 120,000 Users? (Counselors Turn Against DSM-5)

Join the movement of concerned professionals and lay people.

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