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Expected Changes In DSM-V Leave Some Questioning Who’s Normal


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With several new diagnoses expected in the forthcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a group of leading mental health professionals is questioning whether anyone will still be considered “normal.”

Citing what they call three false epidemics in recent years — high rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism and childhood bipolar disorder that emerged after the current DSM-IV was published — several psychiatric experts are taking on the wide variety of new disorders expected to be added to the DSM in the August issue of the Journal of Mental Health.

“In the new edition, temper tantrums among toddlers and heartache over a lost spouse could now be defined as mental health conditions,” says Jerome Wakefield, a social worker at New York University. “One of the most frightening scenarios is the potential for medicating people — particularly children — who haven’t yet shown any signs of illness in a bid to ‘treat’ them for Psychosis Risk Syndrome, as identified by the new draft of DSM-V.”

The DSM serves as the bible for mental health professionals, researchers and insurers by determining what symptoms warrant an official diagnosis. The current edition was released in 1994 and the American Psychiatric Association is presently compiling a fifth version, which is expected to be published in May 2013.

Among the chief concerns outlined in the Journal of Mental Health articles are the stigma that’s associated with mental illness and how that could impact a growing part of the population and fears about over-medication that may result if more and more symptoms are considered worthy of diagnosing.

Revisions to the DSM can be heated and debate emerged about the currently proposed changes even before an official draft was revealed in February. In particular, a proposal to bundle several labels including Asperger’s syndrome under the term “autism spectrum disorders” has proven particularly contentious.

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Comments (3 Responses)

  1. lazyrenowriter says:

    There are many new proposed diagnosies which are quite troubling. While the recovery movement is making some small progress, the Psych doctors, who appear to be frightened of people recovering, continue to place bureaucratic obstacles in the way of recovery. Having established themselves as a bureaucratic dictatorship, which refuses to admit to the possibility of other approaches, they become more frightening each year. On the bright side, this may drive more people to Vibrational methods (which includes homeopathy, but is not limited to it) of healing. But we could lose the 20 – 25% of psychiatry which is helpful, as they continue to lose credibility.

  2. vmgillen says:

    I’d say the problem lies in the fact that these guys are the gatekeepers: you don’t get anything based on need, only based on fitting the APA’s criteria… so the profession’s livelihood is dependent on broad diagnostic criteria… this is wrong. Read T. Szaas’s work…

  3. Melanie says:

    Great article! Will be checking out the new additions to the DSM manual once it comes out in August. It is troubling that more and more behaviors are receiving labels from Psychiatry experts. The new diagnosis tools may prove to be beneficial; but there could be a misuse by some of over diagnosing some individuals.

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