02 December 2012

Allen Frances Reflects On the DSM-5

 In a staggering excoriation (here) at Psychology Today, Allen Frances of Duke University writes:-
Except for autism, all the DSM 5 changes loosen diagnosis and threaten to turn our current diagnostic inflation into diagnostic hyperinflation. Painful experience with previous DSM's teaches that if anything in the diagnostic system can be misused and turned into a fad, it will be. Many millions of people with normal grief, gluttony, distractibility, worries, reactions to stress, the temper tantrums of childhood, the forgetting of old age, and 'behavioral addictions' will soon be mislabeled as psychiatrically sick and given inappropriate treatment. People with real psychiatric problems that can be reliably diagnosed and effectively treated are already badly shortchanged. DSM 5 will make this worse by diverting attention and scarce resources away from the really ill and toward people with the everyday problems of life who will be harmed, not helped, when they are mislabeled as mentally ill.
It is a serious business - isn't it? Many proponents of the neuro turn seem to believe that the ends of neuroscientific knowledge lead away from these challenges by giving us "science". Normal things need not be pathological things. Yet, the neuro turn, especially as promulgated by so-called Third Culture, seems to do precisely that. Perhaps "the Neuro Times" should be renamed "the Faddish Times"?   

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