Ilene A. Serlin Ph.D.

Make Your Life a Blessing

Approaching the DSM-5

The new manual pathologizes everyday life.

Posted May 24, 2013

With the passage of the DSM-5 today by the American Psychiatric Association, more ordinary and even extraordinary experiences of the human condition become psychopathology. This problem of a psychopathology then needs a solution: increasingly medication and quick fixes.

With inevitable changes in healthcare organization and delivery, the question of diagnosis is even more significant.

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle featured on the first page an article on the American Psychiatric Association’s meeting called “Mental health manual besieged”. In this article, Shawn Rubin, the chairman of the school of clinical psychology at San Francisco’s Saybrook University, was quoted as saying: the manual has led to the ‘pathologizing of everyday experiences,” contributing to unnecessary diagnoses and use of prescription drugs” (C1, C5).

Robert Stolorow, one of the original members of the International Council for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology, called the DSM-5 “Psychology’s Ever-Expanding Bible.” He cited studies showing the DSM-5 to be scientifically unsubstantiated and over-pathologizing vulnerable populations and normal emotions such as grief. In this blog post, Stolorow provides an important philosophical perspective on underlying problematic assumptions of the DSM-5.

Critical thinking about the use and misuse of the DSM-5 should be encouraged among all mental health professionals and others.

I welcome any comments posted to the above blog.

About the Author

Ilene Serlin, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the founder and director of Union Street Health Associates and the Arts Medicine Program at California Pacific Medical Center.

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