An open letter to the American Psychiatric Association is spearheading the campaign to revise the soon-to-be-released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5, the newest iteration of the AMA’s handbook for classifying mental disorders (via LaborRelated).The DSM, which will be updated for the first time since 1994, has altered definitions of several notable disorders, in some cases lowering the thresholds for what is considered an illness.
Members of the Society for Humanistic Psychology are worried that these new definitions could lead to unwanted and unwarranted protections in the workplace.
For example, while the elderly are already somewhat protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, under the new DSM they would be able to claim “expected cognitive decline” — essentially, getting slower as you get older — as a disability and gain protection from their employers.
This, the letter claims, “may result in the labelling of sociopolitical deviance as mental disorder.”
Other loopholes, such potentially being able to claim political beliefs as part of a mental disorder (and thus are protection by the ADA) may emerge once people realise the thresholds for disorders are much lower and the definitions are broader. The new DSM will make it easier to diagnose someone with Attention Deficit Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, both of which are already “subject to epidemiological inflation.”
The letter also takes issue with several new disorders, such as “Apathy Syndrome,” “Internet Addiction Disorder,” and “Parental Alienation Syndrome.” These proposed disabilities, the letter says, have “no basis in the empirical literature.”
The letter is approaching 6,000 signatures, and may cause the DSM-V Task Force to go back and consider the input of the concerned psychiatrists.
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