Monday, June 10, 2013

My Summer Reading: The DSM-V

After Jr. was born, one of my lovely friends who doesn't have children, came to visit.  I was in the midst of new baby anxiety and chaos.  If you are a mother, you know the feeling.  You do nothing but change diapers, nurse/feed, and soothe baby all day long, and somehow feel like you haven't had a second of rest.  My not-so-enlightened friend asked, "So, how are you keeping busy?  Read any good books?"  And, she was serious.  I stammered and replied, "Baby 4-1-1-?" (Which really is an excellent resource for new momsies, by the way).  I really wouldn't recommend any new mother plan on catching up on her reading list.  It just won't happen.

Knowing this, I'm not taking my own advice. I have already made some important summer reading plans. During all my free time (like, zero minutes a day) I'm going to try to get through the tantalizing new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Sounds fascinating, doesn't it?  

Well, the new DSM is promising to be an important read.  The American Psychiatric Association, which puts out the DSM as a diagnostic guideline for clinicians and physicians, has made many changes in the new version of the DSM, many of which are quite controversial.  For clinicians like myself working with children, there are relevant changes in the diagnostic criteria for disorders occurring in childhood like Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism/Aspergers (now Autism Spectrum Disorder), Mental Retardation (now Intellectual Developmental Disorder), Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the addition of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.

Many have criticized the new diagnostic manual for lacking scientific validity and that it pathologizes too many "normal" human experiences (such as bereavement). Some suggest that the creators allowed disorders to be added to the DSM in order to bolster money-making for pharmaceutical companies, without other valid reasons for including them.  It does seem sometimes that we rush to diagnose and treat with medication symptoms that may just be normal human "life."

I'm going to hold off on my opinion until I've properly read the new DSM-V.  So, expect me to write about all my insights by the end of the summer . . . . . . . of 2014.

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