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Where is the media coverage of the DSM V vote?

Posted by Claudia M Gold  December 8, 2012 10:30 PM

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Last Sunday I awoke to a news story in our local paper, The Berkshire Eagle, about the vote by the American Psychiatric Association the previous day approving massive revisions for DSMV, the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The article stated:

Board members were tight lipped about the update, but its impact will be huge, affecting millions of children and adults worldwide (italics mine.)
Figuring that this would be big news, I asked my husband if we could delay our morning hike while I wrote a blog post about it. I was sure there would be an active public discussion on the subject.

But I was wrong. Mainstream media had virtually nothing on the story. There was not one word about the DSM vote in the New York Times.  The Boston Globe similarly did not cover the story. There was a brief mention on NPR's Morning Edition on Monday.  had my piece as well as an article about Asperger's being dropped from the new version.

There was news on the blogs. Most striking was from Allen Frances, MD, professor of psychiatry at Duke University, who was chair of the DSM IV task force. On his Huffington Post blog he wrote:
This is the saddest moment in my 45 year career of studying, practicing, and teaching psychiatry. The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association has given its final approval to a deeply flawed DSM-5 containing many changes that seem clearly unsafe and scientifically unsound. My best advice to clinicians, to the press, and to the general public -- be skeptical and don't follow DSM-5 blindly down a road likely to lead to massive over-diagnosis and harmful over-medication. 
While he defends his colleagues against accusations that they have been influenced by big pharma, he  writes that:
The APA's deep dependence on the publishing profits generated by the DSM-5 business enterprise creates a far less pure motivation. There is an inherent and influential conflict of interest between the DSM-5 public trust and DSM-5 as a best seller... The current draft has been approved and is now being rushed prematurely to press with incomplete field testing for one reason only -- so that DSM-5 publishing profits can fill the big hole in APA's projected budget and return dividends on the exorbitant cost of 25 million dollars that has been charged to DSM-5 preparation.
When MGH psychiatrist Joseph Biederman was found guilty of violating conflict of interest rules in accepting large amounts of money from the pharmaceutical industry, the news was announced on July 2nd 2011, a Saturday of a holiday weekend. A number of bloggers suggested that this timing was deliberate: an effort to bury the story.

Some may suggest that the weekend DSMV vote and lack of media coverage is related to the power of the APA and big pharma to squash controversy. For the sake of children, families and adults who struggle with mental illness, I hope that there is a more benign explanation.

Originally published on the blog Child in Mind.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Claudia M. Gold, M.D. is a pediatrician and author of Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums, and Other Everyday Behavior Problems by Seeing the World Through Your Child's More »


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