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Ricci Levy's picture

Building Bridges for Creating change in the DSM

In the past few months I've received numerous calls and emails about the revisions to the bible of the psychiatric world - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short.  The diagnosis in this manual are critically important because they determine who gets diagnosed as mentally ill, who should get powerful psychotropic drugs, and whether and how much insurance companies will pay for care.

The Washington Post quoted Alan Schatzberg, the president of the American Psychiatric Association, "It not only determines how mental disorders are diagnosed, it can impact how people see themselves and how we see each other.  It influences how research is conducted as well as what is researched. . . . It affects legal matters, industry and government programs."
 

The proposals will be debated in an intense process over the next two years, with potentially billions of dollars at stake for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, government health plans, doctors, researchers and patient advocacy groups.

But perhaps more important, the outcome will help shape which emotions, behaviors, thoughts and personality traits society considers part of the natural spectrum of the human persona and which are considered pathological, requiring treatment and possibly even criminal punishment.

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