DSM-5 Controversy in the News

It’s in the news. A lot.

The American Psychiatric Association board of trustees voted on December 1 to approve the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5.)

Not everyone was pleased.

Professor of Social Work Jerome Wakefield at New York University was interviewed on NPR December 6. He was not particularly pleased. Speaking about DSM-5 labeling bereavement as a major depressive disorder, he said, “So you’re basically medicating people who are going to remit on their own, are probably going to do fine. I think given the side effects of medication, the uncertainties of medication, it’s a mistake to make it routine; to open up people to medication under these circumstances. We do want to help people who are suffering, but to re-label suffering as a mental disorder subjected to psychiatric treatment seems like opening the door to a very different way of thinking about ourselves and people that might not actually be so helpful after all.”

Professor Wakefield also wrote a scholarly article about this subject. In DSM-IV, bereavement was generally excluded from consideration as a major depressive disorder (called the “bereavement exclusion”), for the very real reason that this is a normal human emotion and most people recover just fine. The DSM-5 removes this exclusion, and here is what Professor Wakefield says about that: “…there is no scientific basis for removing the bereavement exclusion from the DSM-5.”

Brent Dean Robbins, PhD, director of the psychology program at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, was not pleased, and was quoted on Medscape.com saying, “…we believe strongly that the DSM-5 will not provide clinicians with the confidence that they are using a scientifically reliable and valid tool to asses the mental health of patients.”

Allen Francis, Professor Emeritus at Duke University and chairman of the DSM-IV task force, was not pleased. Here is what he says in The Huffington Post on December 3: “This is the saddest moment in my 45 year career of studying, practicing, and teaching psychiatry. The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association has given its final approval to a deeply flawed DSM-5 containing many changes that seem clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound. … Our patients deserve better, society deserves better, and the mental health professions deserve better. Caring for the mentally ill is a noble and effective profession. But we have to know our limits and stay within them. DSM-5 violates the most sacred (and most frequently ignored) tenet in medicine — First Do No Harm! That’s why this is such a sad moment.”

Well, we’ve been saying all along that there is no scientific basis for the DSM period. Watch the CCHR documentary DVD, “Psychiatry’s Deadliest Scam,” for the truth of the matter. Show it to everyone you know. We have a few DVDs left; become a member of CCHR St. Louis this year and we’ll send you a complimentary DVD.