Allen Frances' strongly worded appeal in the Psychiatric Times predicts the DSM-V -- scheduled for publication in May 2012 - will usher in a flood of new mental disorders that will medicalize normality, producing "a bonanza for the pharmaceutical industry but at a huge cost to the new false-positive patients caught in the excessively wide DSM-V net."
"In my experience, experts on any given diagnosis always worry a great deal about missed cases but rarely consider the risks of creating a large pool of false positives—especially in primary care settings. The experts' motives are pure, but their awareness of risks is often naive. Psychiatry should not be in the business of inadvertently manufacturing mental disorders."Frances makes special note of the potential for "unpredictable and consequential" unintended consequences in forensic settings:
"Years after the DSM-IV was completed, we learned about the enormous unintended impact of a seemingly slight wording change we made only for technical reasons in the section on paraphilias. A misreading of our intentions in making the change had led to great confusion -- with forensic evaluators using the diagnosis of paraphilia not otherwise specified to justify the sometimes inappropriate lifetime psychiatric commitment of rapists who had no real mental disorder."This prediction is prophetic in light of current lobbying efforts by the paraphilias subworkgroup to create a new "pedohebephilic disorder" category that could vastly expand sex offender diagnosis, proving a bonanza for the sexual offender civil commitment industry.
Frances is highly critical of the "inexplicable secrecy and the lack of openness to outside influence and criticism" surrounding the DSM-V revision process.
"Restricting the free flow of ideas creates enormous blind spots that greatly increase the risk of damaging unintended consequences…. The advisory group is far too small and select to reduce, rather than encourage, heated debate. In producing a new edition of the DSM, your harshest critics eventually turn out to be your best friends because they are most likely to help you avoid pitfalls."He is urging the American Psychiatric Association to create an external committee to review what is going on with the DSM and make recommendations to avoid serious negative consequences in the future.
Frances' important article, A Warning Sign on the Road to DSM-V: Beware of Its Unintended Consequences, is available HERE.
An accompanying Q&A, DSM-V Badly Off Track, is HERE.
Some of my related blog posts are HERE.