The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders. It is used in the United States and in varying degrees around the world, by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers.
The DSM has attracted controversy and criticism as well as praise. There have been five revisions since it was first published in 1952, gradually including more disorders. It initially evolved out of systems for collecting census and psychiatric hospital statistics, and from a manual developed by the US Army. The last major revision was the DSM-IV published in 1994, although a "text revision" was produced in 2000. The DSM-V is currently in consultation, planning and preparation, due for publication in May 2012. An early draft will be released for comment in 2009. The mental disorders section of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is another commonly-used guide, used more often in some parts of the world. The two classifications have developed alongside each other and use the same diagnostic codes.
World War II saw the large-scale involvement of US psychiatrists in the selection, processing, assessment and treatment of soldiers. This moved the focus away from mental institutions and traditional clinical perspectives. A committee headed by psychiatrist and brigadier general William C. Menninger developed a new classification scheme called Medical 203, issued in 1943 as a "War Department Technical Bulletin" under the auspices of the Office of the Surgeon General. The foreword to the DSM-I states that the US Navy had itself made some minor revisions but "the Army established a much more sweeping revision, abandoning the basic outline of the Standard and attempting to express present day concepts of mental disturbance. This nomenclature eventually was adopted by all Armed Forces", and that "assorted modifications of the Armed Forces nomenclature [were] introduced into many clinics and hospitals by psychiatrists returning from military duty." The Veterans Administration also adopted a slightly modified version of Medical 203.
In 1949, the World Health Organization published the sixth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD) which included a section on mental disorders for the first time. The foreword to DSM-1 states that this "categorized mental disorders in rubrics similar to those of the Armed Forces nomenclature." An APA Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics was empowered to develop a version specifically for use in the United States, to standardize the diverse and confused usage of different documents. In 1950 the APA committee undertook a review and consultation. It circulated an adaptation of Medical 203, the VA system and the Standard's Nomenclature, to approximately 10% of APA members. 46% replied, of which 93% approved, and after some further revisions (resulting in it being called DSM-I), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was approved in 1951 and published in 1952. The structure and conceptual framework were the same as in Medical 203, and many passages of text identical. The manual was 130 pages long and listed 106 mental disorders.
Although the APA was closely involved in the next significant revision of the mental disorder section of the ICD (version 8 in 1968), it decided to also go ahead with a revision of the DSM-II. It was also published in 1968, listed 182 disorders, and was 134 pages long. It was quite similar to the DSM-I. The term “reaction” was dropped but the term “neurosis” was retained. Both the DSM-I and the DSM-II reflected the predominant psychodynamic psychiatry, although they also included biological perspectives and concepts from Kraepelin's system of classification. Symptoms were not specified in detail for specific disorders. Many were seen as reflections of broad underlying conflicts or maladaptive reactions to life problems, rooted in a distinction between neurosis and psychosis (roughly, anxiety/depression broadly in touch with reality, or hallucinations/delusions appearing disconnected from reality). Sociological and biological knowledge was also incorporated, in a model that did not emphasize a clear boundary between normality and abnormality.
In 1974, the decision to create a new revision of the DSM was made, and Robert Spitzer was selected as chairman of the task force. The initial impetus was to make the DSM nomenclature consistent with the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), published by the World Health Organization. The revision took on a far wider mandate under the influence and control of Spitzer and his chosen committee members. One goal was to improve the uniformity of psychiatric diagnosis in the wake of a number of critiques, including the famous Rosenhan experiment. There was also a perceived need to standardize diagnostic practices within the US and with other countries. The establishment of these criteria was also an attempt to facilitate the pharmaceutical regulatory process.
The criteria adopted for many of the mental disorders were taken from the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) and Feighner Criteria, which had just been developed by a group of research-orientated psychiatrists based primarily at Washington University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Other criteria, and potential new categories of disorder, were established by a consensus during meetings of the committee, as chaired by Spitzer. A key aim was to base categorization on colloquial English descriptive language (which would be easier to use by Federal administrative offices), rather than assumptions of etiology, although its categorical approach assumed that each particular pattern of symptoms in a category reflected a particular underlying pathology (an approach described as "neo-Kraepelinian”). The psychodynamic or physiologic view was abandoned, in favor of a regulatory or legislative model. A new "multiaxial" system attempted to yield a picture more amenable to a statistical population census, rather than just a simple diagnosis. Spitzer argued that “mental disorders are a subset of medical disorders” but the task force decided on the DSM statement: “Each of the mental disorders is conceptualized as a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome.”
The first draft of the DSM-III was prepared within a year. Many new categories of disorder were introduced. Field trials sponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) were conducted between 1977 and 1979 to test the reliability of the new diagnoses. A controversy emerged regarding deletion of the concept of neurosis, a mainstream of psychoanalytic theory and therapy but seen as vague and unscientific by the DSM task force. Faced with enormous political opposition, such that the DSM-III was in serious danger of not being approved by the APA Board of Trustees unless “neurosis” was included in some capacity, a political compromise reinserted the term in parentheses after the word “disorder” in some cases. In 1980, the DSM-III was published, at 494 pages long and listing 265 diagnostic categories. The DSM-III rapidly came into widespread international use by multiple stakeholders and has been termed a revolution or transformation in psychiatry.
In 1987 the DSM-III-R was published as a revision of DSM-III, under the direction of Spitzer. Categories were renamed, reorganized, and significant changes in criteria were made. Six categories were deleted while others were added. Controversial diagnoses such as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and Masochistic Personality Disorder were considered and discarded. Altogether, DSM-III-R contained 292 diagnoses and was 567 pages long.
In 1994, DSM-IV was published, listing 297 disorders in 886 pages. The task force was chaired by Allen Frances. A steering committee of 27 people was introduced, including four psychologists. The steering committee created 13 work groups of 5–16 members. Each work group had approximately 20 advisers. The work groups conducted a three step process. First, each group conducted an extensive literature review of their diagnoses. Then they requested data from researchers, conducting analyses to determine which criteria required change, with instructions to be conservative. Finally, they conducted multicenter field trials relating diagnoses to clinical practice. A major change from previous versions was the inclusion of a clinical significance criterion to almost half of all the categories, which required that symptoms cause “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”.
A "Text Revision" of the DSM-IV, known as the DSM-IV-TR, was published in 2000. The diagnostic categories and the vast majority of the specific criteria for diagnosis were unchanged. The text sections giving extra information on each diagnosis were updated, as were some of the diagnostic codes in order to maintain consistency with the ICD.
Many mental health professionals use this book to help communicate a patient's diagnosis after an evaluation. Many hospitals, clinics, and insurance companies require a 'five axis' DSM diagnosis of the patients that are seen. The DSM can be consulted for the diagnostic criteria. It does not address the method of the evaluation or treatment. The DSM is less frequently used by health professionals who do not specialize in mental health.
Another use of the DSM is for research purposes. Studies that are done on specific diseases often recruit patients whose symptoms match the criteria listed in the DSM for that disease. An international survey of psychiatrists in 66 countries comparing use of the ICD-10 and DSM-IV found that the former was more often used for clinical diagnosis while the latter was more valued for research.
Students may also refer to the DSM to learn criteria required for their courses.
The DSM, including DSM-IV, is a registered trademark belonging to the American Psychiatric Association.
The DSM-IV organizes each psychiatric diagnosis into five levels (axes) relating to different aspects of disorder or disability:
Common Axis II disorders include personality disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and mental retardation.
Common Axis III disorders include brain injuries and other medical/physical disorders which may aggravate existing diseases or present symptoms similar to other disorders.'
On July 23rd 2007, the APA announced the task force that will oversee the development of DSM-V. The DSM-V Task Force consists of 27 members, including a chair and vice chair, who collectively represent research scientists from psychiatry and other disciplines, clinical care providers, and consumer and family advocates. Scientists working on the revision of the DSM have experience in research, clinical care, biology, genetics, statistics, epidemiology, public health and consumer advocacy. They have interests ranging from cross-cultural medicine and genetics to geriatric issues, ethics and addiction. The APA Board of Trustees required that all task force nominees disclose any competing interests or potentially conflicting relationships with entities that have an interest in psychiatric diagnoses and treatments as a precondition to appointment to the task force. The APA made all task force members' disclosures available during the announcement of the task force. Several individuals were ruled ineligible for task force appointments due to their competing interests. Revision of the DSM will continue over the next five years. Future announcements will include naming the workgroups on specific categories of disorders and their research-based recommendations on updating various disorders and definitions.
The appointment, in May 2008, of two of the taskforce members, Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard, has led to an internet petition to remove them. According to MSNBC, "The petition accuses Zucker of having engaged in 'junk science' and promoting 'hurtful theories' during his career." According to The Gay City News, "Dr. Ray Blanchard, a psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto, is deemed offensive for his theories that some types of transsexuality are paraphilias, or sexual urges. In this model, transsexuality is not an essential aspect of the individual, but a misdirected sexual impulse." Blanchard responded, "Naturally, it's very disappointing to me that there seems to be so much misinformation about me on the Internet. It's not that they distorted my views, they completely reversed my views." Zucker "rejects the junk-science charge, saying that there 'has to be an empirical basis to modify anything' in the DSM. As for hurting people, 'in my own career, my primary motivation in working with children, adolescents and families is to help them with the distress and suffering they are experiencing, whatever the reasons they are having these struggles. I want to help people feel better about themselves, not hurt them.'"
There has also been continuing scientific doubt concerning the construct validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories and criteria in the DSM even though they have been increasingly standardized to improve inter-rater agreement in controlled research. It has been argued that the DSM's claims to being empirically founded are overstated in general. Reliance on operational definitions demand that intuitive concepts, such as depression need to be operationally defined before they become amenable to scientific investigation. Such definitions are used as a follow up to a conceptual definition, in which the specific concept is defined as a measurable occurrence. John Stuart Mill pointed out the dangers of believing that anything that could be given a name must refer to a thing and Stephen Jay Gould and others have criticized psychologists for doing just that. A committed operationalist would respond that speculation about the thing in itself, or noumenon, should be resisted as meaningless, and would comment only on phenomena using operationally defined terms and tables of operationally defined measurements.
Despite caveats in the introduction to the DSM, it has long been argued that its system of classification makes unjustified categorical distinctions between disorders, and between normal and abnormal. Although the DSM-V may move away from this categorical approach in some limited areas, some argue that a fully dimensional, spectrum or complaint-oriented approach would better reflect the evidence.
It has been argued that purely symptom-based diagnostic criteria fail to adequately take into account the context in which a person is living, and to what extent there is internal disorder of an individual or a psychological response to adverse situations. It is claimed that the use of distress and disability as additional criteria for many disorders has not solved this false-positives problem, because the level of impairment is often not correlated with symptom counts and can stem from various individual and social factors.
Similarly, it has been argued that the DSM fails to identify what lies beneath patterns of symptoms or relations between disorders. Being based on appearances, it is said to be like a naturalist’s field guide to birds, with similar advantages and disadvantages. However, key figures in the development of the modern DSM argue that "...little progress has been made toward understanding the pathophysiological processes and etiology of mental disorders. If anything, the research has shown that the situation is even more complex than initially imagined, and we believe that not enough is known to structure the classification of psychiatric disorders according to etiology.
Some argue that the existing scheme does not take an integrated evolutionary approach to the conditions it classifies. It is claimed that it is "not guided by any theory about the structure and functioning of normal minds, and fails to make distinctions between those conditions which are "malfunctions" in the cognitive machinery and those which are evolved psychological adaptations. Some argue these distinctions have real implications for diagnosis and treatment, but there is also debate about their implications and the value judgements involved.
There is scientific and political controversy regarding the continued inclusion of sex-related diagnoses such as the paraphilias (sexual fetishes) and female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (low female sex drive). Some cite the APA's decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM as evidence that the APA incorrectly referred to these states of being or orientations as mental illnesses. Others argue that homosexuality should never have been removed and that it meets the criteria for being a mental disorder.
Other conditions formerly classified as mental include epilepsy and the circadian rhythm sleep disorders.
The DSM has been criticized for using criteria, definitions and terminology that are inconsistent with a recovery model, and that it can therefore hinder recovery. It has been suggested the DSM-V requires greater sensitivity to cultural issues and gender; needs to recognise the need for others to change as well as just those diagnosed with DSM disorders; and needs to adopt a dimensional approach in a way that better captures individuality and does not erroneously imply excess psychopathology or chronicity.