DSM5 in Distress

The DSM's impact on mental health practice and research

Top 10 Indicators Of DSM-5 Openness

Challenging APA newspeak.

In '1984', George Orwell introduced the term 'Newspeak'- the abuse of language by totalitarian bureaucracies to create an upside down, looking glass world of misinformation. He was probably inspired by 'Pravda,' the Soviet Union's propaganda paper that literally means 'truth' in Russian but was famous for publishing everything but.

This brings us to the American Psychiatric Association. Its medical director recently justified the astounding $25 million APA has already spent on DSM 5 (5 times the cost of DSM IV) with a curious claim- DSM 5 was so exorbitantly expensive because it was so unprecedentedly open. This classic Newspeak kills two truth birds with one stone — DSM 5 didn't waste a huge amount of money and DSM 5 didn't fail because it was a closed shop. The futile hope is that black will become white if only you say it enough times.

In fact, it is very cheap to run an open process — and very expensive to run a PR disinformation campaign. It cost me nothing but an hour's time to write this blog. How much, I wonder, will it cost APA to pay off GYMR (its high powered public relations producer of newspeak pravda) to defend its indefensible claims that DSM 5 is an open process and that it can meet its unrealistic timetable with a reliable manual?

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Here is a top 10 list of great moments in the history of APA 'openness'.

1) APA forces work group members to sign confidentiality agreements to protect DSM 5 'intellectual property'.

2) DSM 5 does a confidential and super-secret 'scientific' review of itself- real science is never secret.

3) APA rebuffs calls from 51 mental health associations for an open and independent scientific review.

4) APA's legal office tries to stifle criticism and censor the internet using inappropriate and bullying threats of trademark litigation.

5) APA plans to steeply jack up licensing costs for use of DSM criteria sets in order to recoup its unaccountably huge investment on its 'intellectual property'.

6) DSM 5 only reluctantly engages on the issues and instead stonewalls criticism with offensive and defensive tactics.

7) The original DSM 5 plan for field trials included no prior public viewing of criteria sets and no period for public comment. These are added only under heavy outside pressure.

8) DSM 5 publishes no aggregations of key areas of concern identified during public reviews; doesn't respond publicly to them. and there is no indication that public input has had any impact whatever on DSM 5.

9) The APA 'charitable' foundation (meant to provide open public education) is named by a watchdog group as the 7th worst charity in all of the US.

10) APA promises to post a complete set of DSM 5 reliability data in time to allow comments during the final period of public review- but fails to do so.

And this is just a taster. At least a dozen reporters have spontaneously mentioned to me that never in their careers have they encountered anything so byzantine as the APA press office. And dozens of APA members have emailed their frustration at not being able to get a straight (or any) answer from a staff whose salaries are paid by their membership dues.

It requires lots of time, money, and brain power to create 'pravda.' Perhaps this explains why everything connected with DSM 5 is always so late and so expensive and why a high flying hired gun like GYMR is needed to run its interference. The real truth is fast, cheap, and very simple to explain.

Additional research is available at Suzy Chapman's website. She monitors DSM-5 development at http://dxrevisionwatch.wordpress.com

Allen Frances, M.D., was chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and is currently professor emeritus at Duke.

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