A new study from Australia reported by Reuters found that DSM 5 would result in a sky-rocketing sixty percent increase in the rate of alcohol use disorders as compared to DSM IV. The study is neutral on the crucial question of whether the consequences of such a huge jump would be more positive or more negative. It was not designed to determine whether the newly diagnosed "problem drinkers" might more likely benefit from being caught in the much wider net caste by DSM 5 or whether they in fact lack clinically significant impairment and more likely would be harmed by misidentification and unnecessary stigma.
1) This kind of comparison between rates of diagnosis using DSM 5 versus DSM
IV needs to be done for every change suggested in DSM 5. Otherwise, we will
have no idea what will be the impact of DSM 5 on psychiatric diagnosis and
on the boundary between mental disorder and normality. Unaccountably (and
irresponsibly), the DSM 5 field trials have avoided asking this most crucial
2) If, as seems probable, many of the new DSM 5 proposals encourage similar
large jumps in diagnostic rates, the concept of psychiatric disorder will be
trivialized. We already have a diagnostic system whose low thresholds result
in a psychiatric diagnoses for more than forty five million Americans every
year. The further watering down of definitional standards will make
psychiatric diagnosis so ubiquitous as to be almost meaningless- and divert
scarce resources away from those who do need them.