The American Psychiatric Association is poised to release the newest version of its “bible” of psychiatric disorders today, known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders or DSM-5.
You’re all probably sitting there thinking, who really cares? Well if you or anyone you know suffers from a mental illness, you should care. Because the world’s most powerful psychiatrists determine what counts as a mental disorder, and therefore what insurance companies will cover and which children receive special services in schools.
The DSM-5 has not been without controversy, as critics argue that psychiatrists are essentially turning normal human feelings and behaviors into mental illnesses and expanding the criteria for disorders, thereby increasing their scope of practice and virtually ensuring psychiatrists will stay in business for years to come. Critics say that the new criteria could lead to one in four adults being diagnoses with a mental illness each year, and even more so over a lifetime.
The latest revision began in 1999 with high hopes for putting mental illness on more scientific footing, using radiologic studies and neuroscience to tell the difference between common symptoms like normal sadness and major depressive disorder. Unfortunately, science has not made enough progress yet to truly distinguish between symptomatology and true disease.
For those of you who want to self-diagnosis, be prepared to pony up first; the book costs $199.