Monday, 16 June 2008

The writing of psychiatric bible DSM V quickens...

Professor Gavin Andrews

Professor Perminder Sachev

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) is seen as the bible for psychiatrists and related professionals as to mental health conditions, setting out for example the Borderline Personality Disorder, or Schizophrenia. It's the one text that psychiatrists almost always rely upon when they give evidence in the Family Court as expert witnesses.

The DSM is now in its fourth edition, commonly called, rather unimaginatively, as DSM-IV, and more recently DSM-IVTR.

The American Psychiatric Association, in conjunction with the World Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organisation, and the US National Institute of Mental Health has been gathering the forces to rewrite the DSM fifth edition, or DSM-V.

Amazingly, this process has been underway since 1999. Now there are 13 work groups underway, and it is expected that the DSM-V will be finally published in 2012.

The list of the members of the workgroups reviewing the DSM- V has now been announced. There are many Americans, as one would expect, but many international experts. The two Australians in the workgroups are Professor Gavin Andrews and Professor Perminder Sachev, both of Sydney.

Controversy has raged about whether such topics as Parental Alienation Syndrome or Marital Abuse Disorder will be included.There has also been objection to at least one member of the working groups.

Another topic suggested for inclusion is that of internet addiction.

All of these demonstrate the importance of getting the DSM-V right, because of the obvious consequences of getting it wrong. After all, it was not too long ago that homosexuality was considered as a psychiatric disorder, for which the standard treatment was the brain frying electro convulsive therapy.

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