Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Do you believe in the ontological status . . .

of psychiatric diagnoses? (Or not.) Do you want to put your own 2 cents in?

Have at it. The draft of the DSM-5 is now open for public comment. And by the way, it matters to you, because chances are, you are now or will be officially mentally ill. Yep, we're all nuts.

One of the goals of the APA with the new DSM is avowedly to cut down on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders:

The psychiatric group expects that overarching change could actually lower the numbers of people thought to suffer from mental disorders. "Is someone really a patient, or just meets some criteria like trouble sleeping?" APA President Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a Stanford University psychiatry professor, told The Associated Press. "It's really important for us as a field to try not to overdiagnose."

Yeah right. That's why they have added even more diagnoses. Yes, they've consolidated a few to make it look like fewer, but that's a cheap trick. For example, they've decided to conflate Asperger's Syndrome with autism -- which strikes me as completely backwards. There is no reason to believe these are somehow the same entity. The basic reason why a diagnosis is psychiatric rather than neurological is because they don't know the etiology. As soon as a disease is actually understood, it ceases to be psychiatric. So keep that in mind as you comment.


C. Corax said...

Marketplace had a story on tonight about this, the premise of which is that the more diagnoses in the book, the easier it is for Big Pharma to get FDA approvals for their new drugs to treat....something. I believe you've brought up that point a time or two in the past.

Cervantes said...

I think the influence of drug companies on this is subtle and indirect -- they pervade the culture of psychiatry such that psychiatrists are inclined to think that they are dealing with distinct, chemically based diseases, appropriately treated by chemicals. Which is generally not what's going on. But the companies don't overtly corrupt the process. It's all very subterranean.