Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Mind

39. Firestorm Over New Psychiatry Bible

Will a new edition lead to the misdiagnosis of more mental disorders?

shutterstock_10826110.jpg
Shutterstock/ Constant44

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The so-called psychiatrists' bible—the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM—specifies when people should be given diagnoses of mental disorders, influencing everything from insurance reimbursement to legal definitions of mental illness in court. Last year, planned revisions to the fourth edition of the DSM, now 19 years old, triggered bitter public controversy and worries that psychiatric disorders will be misdiagnosed.

Revising the DSM is always contentious because there are few objective tests and often no physical signs of mental disorders. But the debates surrounding the upcoming DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, were particularly intense. The changes "will dramatically raise the rates of mental disorders and mislabel normal people as psychiatrically sick," wrote psychiatrist Allen Frances, who was chairman of the committee for the previous edition.

Frances and other critics say the planned DSM-5 goes too far in lowering the diagnostic thresholds for disorders like ADHD and depression. The British Psychological Society and one subdivision of the American Psychological Association wrote open letters of complaint; the latter group’s petition had more than 14,000 signatories. Preliminary field tests of the new criteria, overseen by researchers working on the revision, show that some definitions, such as those for depression and anxiety, are less reliable than in previous versions. But psychiatrist David Kupfer of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who chairs the DSM-5 planning committee, promises that "we will not see a flood of new diagnoses."

Nevertheless, the American Psychiatric Association has announced some changes to its proposed definitions, such as nixing a controversial new diagnosis called attenuated psychosis syndrome, which some feared would cause people with mild hallucinations or other subtle signs of psychosis to be given powerful antipsychotic drugs. Kupfer says revisions will continue until the manual goes to press at the end of 2012.

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 75%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In