American Psychiatric Association Shuts Down Critical Website

As you read the following, think what an outcry there would be if the silencing came from a third-world dictator (or maybe even the U.S. government) and was directed against pro-democracy protestors or protestors against any real harm.

A woman I don't know, writing from a British email address as Suzy Chapman, had apparently created a website called "DSM-5 and ICD-11 Watch," on which she evidently posted criticisms of the DSM and ICD." Recently, she sent the following message:

"On December 22, with just one working day left before offices closed down for the holidays, I received two communications from the Licensing and Permissions department of American Psychiatric Publishing, A Division of American Psychiatric Association, informing me that my unauthorized use of the DSM 5 mark in my domain name is improper and in violation of United States Trademark Law.

"I was advised that my actions may subject me to contributory infringement liability including increased damages for wilful infringement. I was requested to immediately cease and desist any and all use of the DSM 5 mark, remove the DSM 5 mark from my domain name and provide documentation confirming I had done so, and that any further use would be considered an infringement.

"Given the difficulties of liaising from the UK with the APA and with my Californian based site hosts, WordPress, over the Christmas holiday period and mindful of the implied consequences should I delay taking action, and not being in a position to engage in a legal wrangle with the American Psychiatric Association, I considered I had little choice but to change the site domain and site title.

"Since December 23, the site has been operating under the title ‘Dx Revision Watch' and the domain name URL is now"

After my brain lockdown from reading this began to subside, I had several thoughts:

(1) If there had ever been any doubt about the huge role that money plays in the marketing of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 is now in preparation), this use of trademark law to silence criticism of it makes it clear.
(2) What an appalling abuse of power for the lobby group that calls itself the American Psychiatric Association and reaps the millions of dollars in profits from the DSM to try to shut up some woman in the United Kingdom.

Just now, my wise mother, Tac Caplan, who is 88 and a psychologist, remarked, "If ‘DSM' had been in the title of the website, but it had been about praising the DSM, you know they wouldn't have tried to stop her. It's clearly not really about the trademark but about the DSM people protecting what they want to do."

And I cannot help but feel the chill of remembering too well how this abuse of power and attempt to conceal their actions fits with what previous DSM editors have done. I appeared on The Today Show with DSM-III-R editor Robert Spitzer (and still have the tape of it), when he claimed falsely that his group had "only" voted to "continue" to list Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder in a provisional appendix, not in the main text of III-R, when in fact it was also in the main text for all to see. I was serving on two committees of DSM-IV at the request of its editor, Allen Frances, and had a conversation with him in which I said that I do not like to work adversarially and prefer to work cooperatively, that we were both concerned about the welfare of patients, that I had firsthand information (which I sent to his committee) from women who had been terribly harmed by being diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and that I wondered if he at least had any information that giving that diagnosis had been helpful to more people than it had harmed. His response was simply, "Well, of course there's no way of knowing that." What an answer from the man who persuaded me to serve on his committees with the promise that "This time the decisions will be based on the science," since scientific research can be used to answer precisely the kind of question I was raising. And what did he and his team do? Continued to list PMDD in both the provisional appendix and the main text.

Two of my books and many of my articles, as well as the 53 stories at, are filled with evidence of the lack of science behind psychiatric diagnosis and the devastation it causes in so many people's lives.

So sadly, history repeats itself, as the current DSM heads continue the tradition of attempting to suppress dissent and evidence as they appear to push forward relentlessly to bring us DSM-5. This adds all the more impetus to the PLAN T Alliance, which is aimed at waiting no longer in the hope that these folks will listen to reason but instead moving to take actions of various kinds, including these two petitions:

Boycott the DSM


Call for Congressional Hearings about Psychiatric Diagnosis

©2012 by Paula J. Caplan All rights reserved

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