May 9, 2008

Who will write the next DSM?

Would you believe: Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Wyeth, Merck, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb?

Or, at least, those are some of the BigPharma corporations with whom members of the task force charged with creating the 5th Edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders have contracts.

It shouldn't come as a surprise. But it ought to alarm the public, given BigPharma's enormous and growing influence in so many spheres of public life all around the world.

More than half of the experts involved in the previous edition of the psychiatric bible also had monetary relationships with drug makers, according to a Tufts University study. The percentage was up to 100 percent for experts working on certain severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. (The New York Times story on that 2006 research is here.)

A just-published book, The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders, has more on this construction of difference as illness. Trends that author Peter Conrad notes include the medicalization of "male" problems such as baldness and sexual impotence, and the pathologizing of children's behavior and appearance (short kids now have idiopathic short stature which requires synthetic human growth hormone).

Another new book, The Rise of Viagra, further documents the pathologizing of sexual variation, including an effort by BigPharma's spin doctors to create public hysteria and a new market for medicines to treat Female Sexual Dysfunction."

Meanwhile, as I've blogged about elsewhere, the sex offender industry is lobbying for new diagnoses to medicalize illegal sexual conduct, including "hebephilia" for men who are sexually attracted to teens, and "Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified-Nonconsent" for men who rape.

Look for all these, and more, as possible candidates for the new and expanded DSM-V. Each edition of the DSM contains more diagnoses than its predecessor, and each diagnosis is supposedly treatable with meds. DSM-I (1952) listed 106 mental disorders, DSM-II (1968) had 185, DSM-III (1980) had 265, and DSM-IV (1994) has 357. That's an average of about 84 new diagnoses per edition, so the DSM-V should have 440 or more diagnoses.

Hopefully, this week's blog post by New York Times health writer Tara Parker-Pope about the conflict of interest signals that the public will be kept informed.

The consumer watchdog group Integrity in Science, a project of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is also following the scent of money. See my Amazon book list, Critical Perspectives on Psychiatry, for other books on the DSM and the construction of illness.

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