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Alert: psych hair-pulling, spitting ahead

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists galore are in for a long period of hair-pulling, spitting, accusations, recriminations, name-calling and good old-fashioned spitefests. The proposed draft version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) just went online for comments.

The DSM gets used in many ways. What’s included in the new version — and what’s excluded — is likely to shape:

(1)  Money squabbles: what kinds of ailments and conditions get officially treated (and officially paid for), and what kinds don’t;
(2) Ego squabbles: which theorists get bragging rights and which don’t;
(3) Personal labeling: who gets diagnosed as having a mental disorder, and who doesn’t — who’s officially normal, who’s officially abnormal.

(Thanks to Ivan Oransky for bringing the new version’s release to our attention.)

BONUS: Here’s the more genteel, official description of what the DSM is and does:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system. The current edition, DSM-IV-TR, is used by professionals in a wide array of contexts, including psychiatrists and other physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses, occupational and rehabilitation therapists, and counselors, as well as by clinicians and researchers of many different orientations (e.g., biological, psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, interpersonal, family/systems). It is used in both clinical settings (inpatient, outpatient, partial hospital, consultation-liaison, clinic, private practice, and primary care) as well as with community populations. In addition to supplying detailed descriptions of diagnostic criteria, DSM is also a necessary tool for collecting and communicating accurate public health statistics about the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders.

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