is "unscientific" and "dangerous"
by Angela Hussain
The new planned
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is “unscientific”
and risks increasing the medicalisation of normal behaviour, including
that of children, mental health professionals claimed yesterday.
published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the diagnostic
"bible" for psychiatry around the world. It lists symptoms
and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders, and is widely
used in the UK.
categories of mental illness proposed for the fifth edition (DSM-5)
of the manual, due to be published next year, are at best "silly"
and at worst "worrying and dangerous", said mental health
professionals in a briefing in London.
More than 11,000
health professionals, mainly from the US, have already signed a
petition calling for the development of the fifth edition to be
halted and re-thought.
In June last
year, the British Psychological Society outlined
its concerns about the DSM-5 to the American Psychiatry Association
which argues the new manual will be the result of extensive scientific
literature reviews, and consultation with mental health clinicians.
For the first time, the manual's development has been open to public
some diagnoses - for conditions like "oppositional defiant
disorder" and "apathy syndrome" - risk devaluing
the seriousness of mental illness and medicalising behaviours most
people would consider normal or just eccentric, say critics.
who are shy, bereaved, eccentric, or have unconventional romantic
lives will suddenly find themselves labelled as mentally ill,"
claimed clinical psychologist Prof Peter Kinderman, also head of
Liverpool University's Institute of Psychology.
"It's not humane, it's not scientific, and it won't help decide
what help a person needs."
The 1840 Census of the United States included just one category
for mental disorder. By 1917 the American Psychiatric Association
was recognising 59.
That rose to 128 in 1959, to 227 in 1980, and to around 350 disorders
in the revisions of DSM in 1994 and 2000.
Pilgrim of the University of Central Lancashire said it was "hard
to avoid the conclusion that DSM-5 will help the interests of the
"Madness and misery exist but they come in many shapes and
sizes," he said.
treating the experience and conduct of people as if they are botanical
specimens waiting to be identified and categorised in rigid boxes.
"That would itself be a form of collective madness for all
those complicit in the continuing pseudo-scientific exercise."
examples of diagnoses cited as problematic included "gambling
disorder", "internet addiction disorder" and "oppositional
defiant disorder" - a condition in which a child "actively
refuses to comply with majority's requests" and "performs
deliberate actions to annoy others".
means children who say 'no' to their parents more than a certain
number of times," Prof Kinderman said
criteria, many of us would have to say our children are mentally
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