Manual of Mental Disorders Flawed?

Additions and revisions to a diagnostic guide used by mental health professionals around the world could lead to more misdiagnoses.

By | November 3, 2011


There is widespread concern about the revisions to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) among mental health professionals, Nature reported. After psychologist David Elkins of Pepperdine University in California posted an online open letter in October warning that the revisions might elicit a slew of misdiagnoses and unnecessary medication prescriptions, among other things, 2,800 people signed it in support.

Specifically, professionals worry that the diagnostic guide, which will be published in 2013, contains new disorders as well as some changes to the definitions of existing mental conditions that could lead to clinical diagnoses of people exhibiting normal behaviors Critics claim, for example, that instead of modifying the criteria for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder—something healthcare professionals have been calling for in order to control the number of diagnoses made in children—the DSM-V added a new disorder called “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder,” which can be used as an alternative diagnosis. Another planned addition is “attenuated psychosis syndrome,” which could be used "to stigmatize eccentric people," the British Psychological Society wrote in a letter critiquing the new edition. The results of field trials of DSM-V will be published in the near future and will reveal whether the new and revised criteria will lead to increased diagnoses, according to Nature.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You



Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo


Avatar of: Dr. A-F

Dr. A-F

Posts: 1

November 12, 2012

The fundamental scientific flaw in the Diagnostic & STATISTICAL Manual of Mental Disorders is that never has the APA had the professional courtesy of providing professionals in every other field who might depend on the DSM for evidence-based care with the quantitative "statistics" that provides the objective evidence that supports the DSM diagnoses. I recently wanted to respond to a mother who wanted to know what the statistically grounded incidence was of ADHD. I had to go to the CDC only to find qualitative results on "times ADHD was diagnosed" (a sampling reductio ad absurdum because members of the APA are the ones who use the DSM and they can be expected to respond according to what their own Manual tells them), or results on a  "parents and teachers" paper-and-penil test. At the very least, in a period of evidence-based medicine - meaning that the DSM should "stand up in Court," which it does not - the DSM's Dxs should be based on a national probability sample NOT conducted by the APA but an independent third party demonstrably qualified in quantitative survey research and specifically conducting national probability samples, because if our good psychiatric colleagues don't know it, it's the best way to eliminate bias.

Dr. A-F

Popular Now

  1. Top 10 Innovations 2016
    Features Top 10 Innovations 2016

    This year’s list of winners celebrates both large leaps and small (but important) steps in life science technology.

  2. Gut Microbes Linked to Neurodegenerative Disease
  3. Pubic Hair Grooming Linked to STI Risk
    The Nutshell Pubic Hair Grooming Linked to STI Risk

    Observational study suggests pubic hair grooming correlates with heightened risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, although causation remains unclear.

  4. Image of the Day: Parting Ways
    Image of the Day Image of the Day: Parting Ways

    The Allen Institute for Cell Science releases the first public collection of human induced pluripotent stem cells that have been fluorescently tagged using CRISPR.