OUT NOW! DSM-5: Science or pseudoscience?

The latest version of the bible of mental disorders came out this week after more than a decade of writing (and vicious professional squabbling). It’s the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s the guide to diagnosing whether one’s habits (conscious or not) are indicative of a mental disorder. But in some cases, say the critics, if all we have are the symptoms (like daily nose picking—my example and not from DSM as far as I nose), with no clue as to the cause, then how ‘scientific’ is it to say that it is a symptom of a ‘mental disorder’? Generally we expect science to offer a plausible story about the cause of some data or symptom if it is to be credible. Should we diagnose a child’s carrying on as ‘disruptive mood dysregulation disorder’ or just a tantrum? This short article and also this one at The New Yorker talk of some of the complex and worrying issues. While the articles are critical, none of that is to say that the DSM is not needed, but it continues to raise significant practical and philosophical questions. (And by the way, while DMDD is in, Asperger’s syndrome is out of the manual, now part of the autism spectrum.) I guess it’s easy to criticise but spare a thought for those professionals dedicated to trying to help people in their distress (whether diagnosable, scientific or just plain awful.)

|Difficulty: Easy |Tag: Understanding Science | Time: 6 min |

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