The latest edition of the psychiatry industry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), which is set for publication in May 2013, is expected to contain the most sweeping reclassification of essentially all human conditions, feelings, and emotions as mental disorders…
The arguments against DSM-5 are really quite simple and straightforward — and to me seem absolutely compelling. DSM-5 has failed to allow an open, independent and rigorous scientific review of the evidence supporting its suggestions. It is the result of a secretive and closed process that has lost touch with clinical reality. Its suggestions for new diagnoses and for reducing thresholds on old ones will promote a radical explosion in the rates of psychiatric diagnosis that will worsen our country’s already excessive use of medication. Finally, the DSM-5 preoccupation with diagnosing disorders in people who are not really ill will result in a misallocation of resources that disadvantages those most clearly in need them.
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.
Particular psychiatric diagnoses have not escaped professional criticism. Wishing to make a name for themselves as psychiatrists, “critics” object to one or another diagnosis (homosexuality)—or to “overdiagnosis” (ADHD)—but continue to respect the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a scientific organization and regard the various incarnations of the DSM as respectable legitimating documents. This is dishonest. Confronted with the DSM, the challenge we face is to delegitimize the authenticators, the APA and DSM, not distract attention from their fundamental phoniness by ridiculing one or another “diagnosis” and trying to remove it from the magical list.
I have consistently rejected this piecemeal approach. In my essay “The Myth of Mental Illness,” published in 1960, and in my book with the same title that appeared a year later, I stated my view forthrightly. I proposed that we view the phenomena conventionally called “mental diseases” as behaviors that disturb others (or sometimes the self), reject the image of “mental patients” as helpless victims of patho-biological events outside their control, and refuse to participate in coercive psychiatric practices as incompatible with the foundational moral ideals of free societies. In short, I rejected the authority of the APA as a legitimating organization and of the DSM as a legitimating document. I believe nothing less can undo the mischief wrought by the successive editions of the “psychiatric bible.”
Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness? According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD. Defined as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,” symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.