The Great DSM Debate

July 31, 2009

In a shot recently fired around the online world, commentary about the DSM-V process by Allen Frances, MD, has sparked heated debate that continues to reverberate around the psychiatric world.

In a shot recently fired around the online world, commentary about the DSM-V process by Allen Frances, MD, has sparked heated debate that continues to reverberate around the psychiatric world.

Dr Frances chaired the DSM-IV Task Force. His critique, which appears on the cover of this issue of Psychiatric Times, drew a rapid and ardent rebuttal from the current Task Force members at the American Psychiatric Association, including APA President, Alan Schatzberg, MD, James Scully Jr, MD, Darrel Regier, MD, and David Kupfer, MD. The APA’s rebuttal, which also appears on our cover, promptly drew a retort from Robert Spitzer, MD, who chaired the DSM-III Task Force and who is cited in the APA’s letter. Dr Spitzer’s comments fueled discourse from psychiatrists on both sides of the DSM aisle.

Whether you are a proponent or a critic of the process, a current or former Task Force member, or a psychiatrist who is interested in how the coming edition of DSM is being developed-and what its impact may be on the delivery of mental health care-you’ll find the views posted on our journal’s Web site riveting reading.

Among the postings you’ll find on www.psychiatrictimes.com in our DSM section and on our blog “The Couch in Crisis” are:

• An essay by Renato D. Alarcn, MD, MPH, a member of the Personality Disorders Work Group for DSM-V called Inside the DSM-V Process: Issues, Debates, and Reflections. Also read Dr Alarcn’s The ‘We Know Better/Holier Than Thou’ Crusade.

• An essay from William T. Carpenter, MD, chair of the Psychoses Work Group and a member of the DSM-V Task Force. Dr Carpenter addresses “some key issues where criticisms do not relate to reality as experienced from within the process.”

• A letter from Jane Costello, PhD, to the DSM-V Child and Adolescent Work Group that explains why she decided to resign from the group.

If you’ve got something to say about this process and want to share your views with colleagues, please e-mail us at www.psychiatrictimes.blogspot.com.