It matters that people have a way to use the latest findings in psychology beyond buying a pill for depression. It matters that people have a way of looking at their lives that lets them ask the big questions and determine how they want to live – and that this is supported by therapists and mental health professionals.


DSM-5 ignites a firestorm of controversy: but so far Saybrook remains the only University to take a stand

Posted on 22 Feb | 2 comments
DSM-5 ignites a firestorm of controversy:  but so far Saybrook remains the only University to take a stand

Some 11,000 mental health professionals have signed their names to a petition protesting the vast expansion of “mental illnesses” coming with the DSM-5, the “Bible of psychiatrists” which frequently determines what insurance companies will and won’t pay for. 

Accusations of bias, drug company money, and an attempt to “pathologize ordinary life” have dogged the DSM-5 from the beginning, and the media is taking notice. 

"Revision of psychiatric manual under fire," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle.

American Psychiatric Association Under Fire for New Disorders,” says ABC News. 

Psychologists fear US manual will widen mental illness diagnosis,” says the Guardian of London.  “Mental disorders listed in publication that should not exists, warn UK experts.”

Individual difference suffers in the neverending explosion of mental illness,” writes The Australian.

CBS news writes that “The proposed changes have some experts and parents worried that lots of people who currently are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder may be left in the dark when it comes to necessary state benefits.”

What kind of other changes are we looking at?  An editorial in the Lancet took exception to the fact that the DSM-5 authors are apparently removing language noting that depression is often a normal part of the process of grieving for the death of a loved one. 

Seriously:  the new DSM is on track to deny that being depressed by the death of a loved one is a normal part of the grieving process. 

It’s unbelievable, and it’s understandable why so many mental health professionals are throwing up their hands and saying “Enough.”  (Donna Rockwell did so in The New Existentialists here)

It’s no stretch to say that the fate of millions of people who go in for counseling depends on what happens with the DSM-5.  It may be hyperbole to say that what’s at stake is what it means to be human in the 21st century … but that’s certainly one of the questions on the table. 

So far, however, Saybrook University remains the only educational institution to sign the petition.  This must not remain the case:  educational institutions have a role to play in the study of our common humanity, and its defense.  I can only hope other institutions dedicated to the study of psychology will recognize their duty to stand up and be counted.

-- Benjamin Wachs

Read other posts by Benjamin Wachs

 Keep up with our community - follow us on Facebook and Twitter


Comments and Discussions

Glad to see this article

Glad to see this article here. One thing that alarms me is that, in all the talk about how bad the next edition of the DSM will be, what is being too much neglected is that every day NOW, countless numbers of people are being harmed by the editions currently in use, DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR. I was on two committees that wrote DSM=IV and resigned because I was so appalled by what I saw them do with scientific research, i.e., play fast and loose by using bad research if it supported what they wanted and not using good research if it did not support what they wanted to do anyway. I detailed this and more in my book, They Say You're Crazy: How the World's Most Powerful Psychiatrists Decide Who's Normal, and there is a lot more information in Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis and in many of the essays on my Psychology Today blog. Ways that this is relevant to war veterans are address at See also And watch for news about a new initiative to try to reduce the harm from psychiatric diagnoses.

the entire psychiatric

the entire psychiatric enterprise is a horrendous mess, powered by big pharma, legal, political, inaap[ropriate medical interests and a mechanistic view of life -- look at, for example, Valenstein's "Blaming the Brain", or Bentall's "Doctoring the Mind", or any of Szasz's books (although he is unnecessarily shrill). What are emotional difficulties of living doing being treated coercively, chemically, in the medical profession?

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Google Plus