New Psychiatry 'Bible' Under Fire

Critics say it's too broad, confusing

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted May 18, 2013 4:23 PM CDT

(Newser) – A new edition of the manual doctors use to diagnose mental illness, the DSM, has just been released by the American Psychiatric Association—but it has already been stirring up controversy for months, reports CBS. Most critically, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health has spoken out against DSM-5, saying its definitions are too broad and lack scientific validity, the New York Times reports. "As long as the research community takes the DSM to be a bible, we’ll never make progress," he said. "People think that everything has to match DSM criteria, but you know what? Biology never read that book."

Among other changes, the new DSM-5 has encompassed four previously separate disorders under the blanket "autism spectrum disorder." Another change: previously, those grieving for a lost love one couldn't be diagnosed with depression within two months of the death. Now bereavement is actually classed as a trigger. (PsychCentral has a thorough rundown of all the changes.) John Hopkins psychiatry professor Paul McHugh has also criticized the new manual in the Washington Post, saying it encourages doctors to rely on check-lists rather than getting to know their patients. "DSM-5 will be more of the same—a way to 'know of' disorders without 'knowing about' them," he writes.

  (Shutterstock)
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