What do some of the world's top mental health experts have in common with best-selling British author Sir Terry Pratchett, the former prime ministers of Australia and Norway, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s son, memoirist Mark Vonnegut? All are issuing calls of alarm over the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association's upcoming diagnostic manual, in a special issue of the Journal of Mental Health.
Due to their important public policy implications, the Journal is making the lineup of commentaries available to the public for free. In a press release, the Journal points out that the previous DSM revision led to a wave of false "epidemics" of such conditions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autistic disorder, childhood bipolar disorders, and that the new edition may lead to more of the same.
"The publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is one of the most highly anticipated events in the mental health field," explains Managing Editor Daniel Falatko. "This is the first major rewrite of DSM in 16 years and history has warned us that even small changes to this manual can have extraordinary repercussions in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues."
The theme running throughout the special issue is widespread fears in the psychiatric community that the expansion of diagnostic guidelines will allow everyone to qualify for psychiatric disorders, which in turn will lead to greater prescription of psychiatric drugs, many of which have unpleasant and dangerous side effects.
At a joint briefing, mental health experts expressed particular fear over the proposed "psychosis risk syndrome" diagnosis, which could falsely label young people who may only have a small risk of developing an illness.
"It’s a bit like telling 10 people with a common cold that they are 'at risk for pneumonia syndrome' when only one is likely to get the disorder," said Dr. Til Wykes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.
The free articles, some by psychiatric patients, include:
- Diagnosis, diagnosis, diagnosis: towards DSM-5 by Til Wykes and Felicity Callard
- Are psychiatric diagnoses of psychosis scientific and useful? The case of schizophrenia by Jim Van Os
- Misdiagnosing normality: Psychiatry's failure to address the problem of false positive diagnoses of mental disorder in a changing professional environment by Jerome C. Wakefield
- DSM-V and the stigma of mental illness by Dror Ben-Zeev, Michael A. Young, and Patrick W. Corrigan
- Conceptualisation of mental disorder and its personal meanings by Derek Bolton
- Patients can diagnose too: How continuous self-assessment aids diagnosis of, and recovery from, depression by Peter C. Groot
- Diagnosing Clapham Junction syndrome by Terry Pratchett
- What my diagnosis means to me by Mike Shooter
- Depression and recovery by Sarah Mitchell
- Personal Reflections on Diagnosis by Mark Vonnegut
- On the impact of being diagnosed with schizophrenia by Frederick J. Frese
- Tackling Depression by Geoff Gallop
- Psyche, soma, and science studies: New directions in the sociology of mental health and illness by Martyn D. Pickersgill
- Globe and Mail (UK): Mental health experts ask: Will anyone be normal? Binge eating, temper tantrums may become new diagnoses
- BBC News: Mental health: are we all sick now?