July 7, 2022

DSM-5 criticised for over-medicalising “normal behaviour”

Hundreds of thousands of people could be diagnosed as “mentally ill” because they display behaviours now considered normal, in a revised edition of the psychiatrists’ bible, some experts warn.

Hundreds of thousands of people could be diagnosed as “mentally ill” because they display behaviours now considered normal, in a revised edition of the psychiatrists’ bible, some experts warn. Psychiatrists and psychologists are voicing concerns about the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – the DSM-5 – which classifies every type of mental disorder. They argue that it over-medicalises many cases of normal behaviour. A petition criticising the new edition of the DSM-5 has attracted the signatures of 11,000 psychologists in the US. Its predecessor, the DSM-4, is used worldwide for research and is used by pharmaceutical companies to formulate medications for mental disorders.

The DSM-5, to be published in May, defines shyness in children and uncertainty over gender as mental disorders. Loneliness could be diagnosed as chronic depressive disorder, as well as unhappiness after bereavement. Under the new edition, a rapist could be classified as mentally ill, and could be diagnosed with paraphilic coercive disorder. The DSM-4 – last revised 12 years ago – classifies children who argue and disobey their parents as having oppositional defiance disorder.

Professor Nick Craddock, a consultant psychiatrist in Cardiff and director of Wales’ National Centre for Mental Health, said: “Somebody who is bereaved might need help and even counselling, but they did not need a label saying they had a mental illness. I believe that a large proportion of psychiatrists in the UK and Europe are sceptical about DSM-5.” The American Psychiatric Association has defended the DSM-5. The vice-chair of the DSM-5 taskforce wrote: “While we agree that human feelings and behaviors exist on a spectrum that contains some overlap of normal reactions to disease states, psychiatry also recognizes that there are real and discrete disorders of the brain that cause mental disorders and that can benefit from treatment.” ~ Guardian, Feb 9; BMJ, Feb 10

DSM-5 criticised for over-medicalising “normal behaviour”
Jared Yee
neuroscience
psychiatry
US