July 31, 2009

Lane on "diagnostic madness of DSM-V"

To linger anxiously, even bitterly, over job loss is all too human. To sigh with despair over precipitous declines in one's retirement account is also perfectly understandable. But if the APA includes post-traumatic embitterment disorder in the next edition of its diagnostic bible, it will be because a small group of mental-health professionals believes the public shouldn't dwell on such matters for too long.

That's a sobering thought -- enough, perhaps, to make you doubt the wisdom of those updating the new manual. The association has no clear definition of the cutoff between normal and pathological responses to life's letdowns. To those of us following the debates as closely as the association will allow, it's apparent that the DSM revisions have become a train wreck. The problem is, everyone involved has signed a contract promising not to share publicly what's going on.
That's a snippet from Christopher Lane's latest essay on the upcoming DSM-V, in Slate magazine. Lane is an English professor and author of Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, a wonderful expose of how the DSM-III came to be.

Related article: Wrangling over psychiatry's bible, Los Angeles Times

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