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Delay DSM Forever: Problems With Psychiatry's Label Bible May Unite Left and Right

Recently, the American Psychiatric Association announced a one year delay in publishing the next version of their "label bible." Good, let this delay be extended forever. In fact, concern about psychiatry's bullying labeling of people is uniting both the right wing and the left wing!


Psychiatrist Darrel A. Regier is in charge of creating the new DSMI was heartened to read that the American Psychiatric Association is delaying the publishing of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for another year. The DSM is psychiatry's enormous and growing label bible.

It's true that a lot of medical professions have similar systems of labels that are more art than science.

However, the difference is the DSM is about our behavior and thoughts, and it packs a punch. The DSM is actually a quasi-legal document, because it is mentioned in quite a few laws. In a way, the DSM legislates our lives. However, unlike regular laws, the DSM is created by a few hundred rich mental health professionals, behind closed doors.

MindFreedom has asked for dialogue between those working on the next DSM, and mental health consumers/psychiatric survivors.

One of those leading the revisions of the DSM, Dr. Darrel A. Regier (pictured above) has refused all attempts at such dialogue, even when initiated by the head of the World Health Organization's mental health division, Dr. Benedetto Saraceno.

But isn't that the way with bullying?

Yes, a lot of the problem with psychiatric human rights violations comes down to bullying.

A fairly small group of folks, who I believe are even well-meaning, are bullying the rest of us. But even well-intentioned bullying is still harmful.

Specifically, the American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance for Mentally Ill and other psychiatric industry organizations, are trying to tell us all what our psychiatric "labels" should be, and then that this means we ought to mainly take chemicals manufactured by those who help finance their associations.

Schoolyard bullying has gotten more and more attention in recent years, as bullying between young people moves into cyberspace.

Well, experts in young person bullying say that a key to stopping the behavior is allies. When spectators and bystanders and peers see someone being bullied and speak out, the bullying often stops. When those watching say nothing, then the bullying appears to be "normal," and the victim can feel totally isolated and hopeless.

Sound familiar?

It's time for allies to speak out about psychiatric bullying.

What's most interesting to me, is that some on both the right wing and the left wing are speaking out about psychiatric bullying.

For instance, consider the Washington Times. This publication is certainly considered one of the more conservative daily publications in the USA. The Washington Times recently published a guest column by two professors concerned about the unscientific nature of psychiatric labeling, through the "label bible" known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

The professors are concerned that by labeling more and more people, the extreme nature of the DSM could actually endanger attempts to have universal health care, because the DSM would mean a blank check for the psychiatric industry.

You can read the column here:

http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/diagnostics/richard-vatz-jeffrey-schaler


Similar concerns about the DSM have been brought up by those on the left.

For instance, I was there when the National Organization for Women (NOW) protested in front of the American Psychiatric Association, and spoke out to key leaders, when the APA voted in new psychiatric labels for women. That's right, the APA members literally vote in new diagnoses. With the stroke of a pen, an estimated 500,000 women became "mentally disordered" that day, when types of PMS were added to the DSM.

You know what unites left wing and right wing? Well, as much as they may both criticize each other, both sides have legitimate concerns about illegitimate authority, also known as bullies!

It's time to watch the revisions of the label bible, as it grows even more. There are even fights within the APA itself about the process. You see, apparently some of the authors of the DSM-IV (the current version) are concerned about the closed nature of the process of creating the DSM-V (the planned new version). You can read about "psychiatry's civil war" in this article in New Scientist.

So we welcome the delay in the DSM-V. May this delay be indefinite and forever, until and unless the bullying power of the psychiatric industry is challenged, and ended.

I have brought up with the MindFreedom International board of directors the idea of supporting a major nonviolent protest in front of the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in May 2012, to block the ongoing attempts to legislate our lives without representation. Yes, that's two years away, but now is the time to prepare. Already, people are expressing interest internationally, and actions are already planned as far as Australia.

It's time for everyone to unite on this, because uniting is, after all, what stops bullying.

People may download a PDF of the APA announcement about the DSM delay by clicking here.


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Matt Morrissey

Matt Morrissey is on the MFI Choice in Mental Health Campaign Committee. Matt directs the adult day program at Full Spectrum Progressive Mental Health, which is a nonprofit center in San Francisco that offers voluntary programs for adults and adolescents in severe emotional distress. Full Spectrum is a Sponsor Group in MFI. Matt is shown here speaking at an MFI co-sponsored protest in front of the American Psychiatric Association. (Photo by Tom Olin)
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