October 27, 2011

DSM-5 petition takes off like wildfire

I just checked back on the status of the petition by psychologists about the DSM-5 that I blogged about Sunday, and found that it's gaining momentum fast: 1,160 signatures as of this moment, and there will be a dozen more in the few minutes it takes me to upload this post!

The blaze of interest is especially remarkable because the petition was launched without any publicity at all, and has gained traction solely through word of mouth.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I urge you to do so, and pass it along to others.

According to Allen Frances, chair of the DSM-IV task force and an outspoken critic of the current DSM-5 process, the American Psychiatric Association leadership is aware of the petition, but plans no formal response. Writing yesterday at the Psychiatric Times, he said:
They hope to ride out the storm of opposition mounting on all sides and dismiss it as the work of professional rivals or antipsychiatry malcontents. Characteristically, DSM-5 offers no rebuttal based on evidence. Instead, it stubbornly soldiers on in its promotion of radical diagnostic changes that are risky, untested, unsupported by a strong science base, and vigorously opposed by the field.

The really unexplainable paradox is the APA's systematic promotion of greater diagnostic inflation at a time when we are already so obviously plagued by diagnostic inflation, fad diagnoses, and false epidemics. Unless it comes to its senses, DSM-5 will promote greater drug use exactly when we have a public health problem caused by the inappropriately loose prescription of antipsychotics, antidepressants, antianxiety agents, pain medicines, and stimulants. The paradox is that, contrary to conspiracy theorists, the DSM-5 experts are not making their risky suggestions because of financial conflict of interest or the desire to line drug company pockets. They have the best of intentions, but are terminally naïve about how their suggestions will be misused....
Frances has another good commentary on the petition and its ramifications at his Psychology Today blog dedicated to the mounting crisis, DSM5 in Distress:
DSM 5 has lived in a world that seems to be hermetically sealed. Despite the obvious impossibility of many of its proposals, it shows no ability to self correct or learn from outside advice. The current drafts have changed almost not at all from their deeply flawed originals. The DSM 5 field trials ask the wrong questions and will make no contribution to the endgame.

But the DSM 5 deafness may finally be cured by a users' revolt. The APA budget depends heavily on the huge publishing profits that accrue from its DSM sales. APA has ignored the scientific, clinical, and public health reasons it should omit the most dangerous suggestions- but I suspect APA will be more sensitive to the looming risk of a boycott by users.
Again, I encourage you to join the movement now, by clicking on the link below and by spreading the word.


oncefallendotcom said...

As an advocate for sex offender legal reform, I am concerned with the great expansions of mental "illnesses" proposed for the DSM-V, primarily because since the Kansas v Hendricks decision, sex offenders can be civilly committed with the low standard of "mental abnormality or personality disorder." Imagine being civilly committed for having "Internet Addiction Syndrome." Or “Parental Alienation Syndrome.”

Anonymous said...


I took a gander at the petition and noticed that "hebephilia," or the pedohebephilia" construct, was not included. Has the fight against this subsided for some reason? I am merely curious.

With regards to the issue of changing the definition of mental disorder, that in itself does not seem particularly sound, especially from a scientific point-of-view. Concepts are concepts and are defined as they are for a reason. It seems to me as if the task force is attempting to shape the concept of "mental disorder" to accommodate their desired proposals instead of the other way around. How can anyone, let alone a host of psychologists, base a mental disorder on social or cultural mores? That, to me, doesn't make any sense at all, and it is a travesty against science. I can foresee that "laughing stock" label being applied sooner or later if this conflict keeps going the way it is.

Karen Franklin, Ph.D. said...

Once Fallen,

Under the Supreme Court's ruling, there must still be a causal nexus between the mental abnormality and the risk of sexual offending. It's hard to see how something like Parental Alienation Syndrome (which at any rate is not being seriously considered for the DSM-5, to my knowledge) could meet that criterion.

Karen Franklin, Ph.D. said...


The coalition that is sponsoring the petition is mainly clinically focused, so the paraphilias debacle -- which is mainly taking place in the forensic arena -- had gone under their radar.

By the way, the DSM-5 is produced by psychiatrists, not psychologists, even though the fellows up at the Toronto sex clinic who are pushing the new paraphilias are psychologists.

Anonymous said...


My apologies for the misnomer with regards to the DSM-5. I was referring to the team at the Toronto sex clinic, although I do realize that the DSM is produced by psychiatrists. I should have been clearer on my reference to that.