The bigwigs of mental health research have slammed the bigwigs of psychiatry, which will probably mean more confusion for the rest of us.
In 10 days, on May 27, 2013, the American Psychiatric Association’s new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition, or DSM-5, will be published. This is the massive reference book that psychiatrists and therapists use in order to diagnose mental illness.
But a few weeks ago, the head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which is the world’s largest funding agency for research into mental health, trashed the DSM-5. More precisely, Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of NIMH, said the government agency would no longer fund research based on DSM-5 categories. Read:
The NIMH withdraws support for DSM-5, by Christopher Lane, Ph.D., on PsychologyToday.com.
Transforming diagnosis, by Thomas Insel, on NIMH.NIH.gov.
Defining and diagnosing sociopaths was already a mess, with mental health professionals disagreeing on what they should be called and how the disorder should be defined.
Psychiatrists use the term “antisocial personality disorder.” Research psychologists use the term “psychopathy.” Neither psychopathy nor sociopathy are clinical diagnoses in the DSM-5. The new DSM-5 did make changes to the way antisocial personality disorder was defined and diagnosed, but the research psychologists still say it’s different from psychopathy.
While the experts argue with each other, the public is clueless that these social predators live among us.
So what will happen with this even bigger dispute between segments of mental health professionals? I have no idea, but I imagine the public will still be in the dark.
The Wall Street Journal offered a thought-provoking analysis of this situation in its review of two related books:
The Book of Woe, by Gary Greenberg, “takes us on a rollicking journey from the DSM-5’s inception to its publication, regaling us with stories, alternately hilarious and infuriating, of internecine battles, personality clashes and political machinations.”
Saving Normal was written by Dr. Allen Frances, who was task-force chair for the DSM-IV revision. He “attempts the delicate task of debunking the DSM-5 while justifying his own DSM-IV. He was alarmed by the DSM-5’s proposals of ‘new diagnoses that would turn everyday anxiety, eccentricity, forgetting and bad eating habits into mental disorders.'”
Read: How psychiatry went crazy, on WSJ.com.