Since the publication of DSM-IV in 1994, the rates of 3 mental disorders have skyrocketed: attention deficit disorder (ADD) tripled, autism increased by 20-fold, and childhood bipolar disorder by 40-fold.
In 1952, the first hydrogen bomb was detonated and the American Psychiatric Association, APA, published its first book of mental illnesses: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM.
No one, then, could have imagined that this seemingly innocuous manual would be more destructive, and result in producing more victims, than a nuclear weapon.
Since then the DSM has mushroomed and with each revised DSM untold millions carry the scars from its devastating effects.
For any mental illness or passing mood swing that may trouble a person, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — better known as the DSM — has a label and a code. Recurring bad dreams? That may be a Nightmare Disorder, or 307.47. Narcolepsy uses the same digits in a different order: 347.00. Fancy feather ticklers? That sounds like Fetishism, or 302.81. Then there’s the ultimate catch-all for vague sadness or uneasiness, General Anxiety Disorder, or 300.02. That’s a label almost everyone can lay claim to.Drug companies are particularly eager to win over faculty psychiatrists at prestigious academic medical centers. Called “key opinion leaders” (KOLs) by the industry, these are the people who through their writing and teaching influence how mental illness will be diagnosed and treated. They also publish much of the clinical research on drugs and, most importantly, largely determine the content of the DSM. In a sense, they are the best sales force the industry could have, and are worth every cent spent on them. Of the 170 contributors to the current version of the DSM (the DSM-IV-TR), almost all of whom would be described as KOLs, ninety-five had financial ties to drug companies, including all of the contributors to the sections on mood disorders and schizophrenia.
Expected to be published in May 2013, the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – the bible of the American Psychiatric Association – has created a firestorm of controversy in its suggested treatment of individuals who have gender identity issues.
According to the manual, an individual questioning gender identity and meeting certain criteria suffers from gender identity disorder, which is therefore considered a mental disorder. And the new edition, whose revisions have been in the works for more than a decade, is likely to once again disappoint the vocal community that has been arguing for years that being transgendered is not a mental illness.
SOME psychiatrists — the ones who don’t believe they are godlike creatures — are in a bit of a tizz these days. They are worried about all the damage they might have unwittingly done by misdiagnosing mental illness. Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi could help to ease their furrowed brows. Some background, before I explain that apparent non-sequitur: In a soul-searching analysis of his profession in Wired magazine recently, US psychiatrist Dr Allen Frances declares that mental disorders “can’t be defined”, and it’s “bull—-” to suggest otherwise. Frances is lead editor of the DSM-IV, the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. It’s a publication that has been described as “the bible” and “the imperial doctrine” of psychiatrists.
It’s what shrinks use, in their godlike wisdom, to decide whether or not you are mentally ill — and then to prescribe powerful, dangerous drugs, and other treatments that can turn you into a shadow of your former self. In the gut-wrenching Wired article, Frances says: “We psychiatrists have made mistakes that had terrible consequences.”