December 5, 2012
As Allen Francis, one of the DSM-5’s most vocal critics, writes in his recent Psychology Today column, the final approval of the “deeply flawed DSM-5” by The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association “will start a half or dozen or more new fads which will be detrimental to the misdiagnosed individuals and costly to our society… Many millions of people with normal grief, gluttony, distractibility, worries, reactions to stress, the temper tantrums of childhood, the forgetting of old age, and ‘behavioral addictions’ will soon be mislabeled as psychiatrically sick and given inappropriate treatment.”
Francis recounts the background of the controversy surrounding the DSM-5—its economic and political motivation, its disregard for the basics of scientific method, and the outpouring of protest from more than 50 mental health professional associations and thousands of individual practitioners. He then advises everyone to “just avoid the 10 changes that make no sense.”
Under the circumstances and for the moment, I agree with his advice. But not with what it implies—namely, that the rest of the manual DOES make sense (and is not harmful and costly). As I’ve shared in several posts throughout the year, the publicity over DSM-5 could/should have been an opening for a developmental, inclusive, international conversation—where professionals and the public put the diagnostic activity on the table open to scientific, cultural, political and philosophical scrutiny, and where non-diagnostic practitioners are sought out for their experience and expertise. It’s never too late.