Tag Archives: mental disorder

DSM-5 or: “Progress” in psychiatry

DSM-5 is the acronym of the 2013 update to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) classification and diagnostic tool. The full title is Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

In the United States the DSM serves as a universal authority for psychiatric diagnosis. Treatment recommendations, as well as payment by health care providers, are often determined by DSM classifications, so the appearance of a new version has significant practical importance. DSM-5 is also an important reference tool in many other countries.

I am neither an expert in this discipline, nor did I – fortunately – have a history as a patient in that field. But I find some of the content of DSM-5 deeply disturbing.

Grief is according to my understanding a normal reaction to the loss of a close person. And it is difficult to imagine that there is someone out there who thinks that grief is something pathological. It is very individual how and how long we grieve. But DSM-5 says: if you lost your partner, child, parent, or another person close to you and you mourn for longer than two weeks(!), you are suffering from a pathological disorder that requires treatment.

DSM-4, the predecessor of DSM-5 admitted in 2000 still a two months’ mourning period after the loss of a close person as “normal”, DSM-3 in 1980 even a one year mourning period as “normal”.

And let me guess – DSM-6 will probably consider a mourning period longer than two days as a pathological disorder. I suppose that is called “progress”. (It is indeed – but only for the balance sheets of the pharmaceutical industry.)

I hope I will never fall in the hands of a psychiatrist who is working on the basis of DSM-5.

“Progress celebrates victories over nature. Progress makes purses of human skin….Nature can rely on progress; it will avenge it for the outrage it has perpetrated on it.” (Karl Kraus)


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