Diagnosing psychiatric illness has always been controversial, mental health experts say. Now some are worried that a new draft of the diagnostic ‘bible’ for mental health medicine could result in almost everyone being diagnosed with a mental condition. The diagnostic ‘bible’ in question is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
A further step in the Americanisation of mental healthcare threatens to turn large numbers of “normal” people into psychiatric patients, British experts warned. Sweeping changes to a diagnostic “bible” that influences practitioners around the world could make it far easier to be labelled with a psychological problem, it is claimed.
Fads in psychiatric diagnosis come and go and have been with us as long as there has been a psychiatry. The fads meet a deeply felt need to explain, or at least to label, what would otherwise be unexplainable human suffering and deviance. In recent years the pace has picked up and false “epidemics” have come in bunches involving an ever increasing proportion of the population. We are now in the midst of at least three such epidemics- of autism, attention deficit, and childhood bipolar disorder. And unless it comes to its senses, DSM5 threatens to provoke several more (hypersexuality, binge eating, mixed anxiety depression, minor neurocognitive, and others).