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DSM-5 Proving To Be A Controversial Manual
By Brent Dean Robbins, Ph.D.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often referred to as the “Bible” of psychiatry, is scheduled for publication in May 2013. The DSM-5 Task Force, which operates under the umbrella of the American Psychiatry Association, has already made public proposed changes to diagnostic criteria and many of these proposals are proving to be controversial.
Some of the more controversial changes with the DSM-5 have to do with the lowering of diagnostic thresholds, the introduction of disorder categories that risk misuse with vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly, and a new and greater emphasis on diagnostic language that seems biased in the direction of biological etiology and treatment.
For example, “Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome” appears to have remarkably poor predictive validity, and is likely to result in many false positive diagnoses. New criteria for Major Depressive Disorder would remove the bereavement exclusion and conflate normal human grief and mental illness. While attention Deficit Disorder is currently already subject to epidemiological inflation, new proposed criteria would likely increase the number of children and adults diagnosed with this disorder. General Anxiety Disorder, as proposed, would also involve changes in diagnostic criteria that would substantially expand the number of people who would meet the criteria for this mental illness. In addition, new diagnostic categories, such as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, have very little empirical evidence to support the reliability and validity of the diagnostic category, and would likely put children at risk of unnecessary stigmatization and treatment.
To raise awareness of these problems, the Society for Humanistic Psychology wrote an Open Letter to the DSM-5 in October 2011. To date, over 55 mental health organizations, including 15 Divisions of the American Psychological Association and the British Psychological Society, have endorsed the letter. In addition, over 12,000 individuals, mostly mental health professionals, have signed the letter. At 5pm on Saturday, March 31, 2011, at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, the Society for Humanistic Psychology will present a symposium on these controversies, titled “A Most Dangerous Manual.” The public is invited to attend.
Dr. Brent Dean Robbins is director of the psychology program and associate professor of psychology at Point Park University. He is also an outpatient therapist for Mercy Behavioral Health. Dr. Robbins can be reached at (716) 982-8594 or brobbins@pointpark.edu or visit www.pointpark.edu and www.dsm5-reform.com

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