New Civilization News: Another Critical Look at the DSM    
 Another Critical Look at the DSM3 comments
picture27 May 2008 @ 13:31, by Gerald Vest

You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

In the beginner’s mind there is no thought, “I have attained something.” All self-centered thoughts limit our vast mind. When we have no thoughts of achievement, no thought of self, we are true beginners. Then we can really learn something. The beginners mind is the mind of compassion, it is boundless. Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,
pp. 21-22.

Dear Colleagues and friends,

I believe that as social workers or health professionals, we should begin to examine our use and support of the DSM as it causes more harm than good for our clients and students as introduced in this article and in several logs that I have posted here and on my forum. Many of our schools of social work and Board of Social Work Examiners continue to support this handbook for mental health professionals and present it in classes and for professional examinations as if it is a scientific measurement for mental health disorders. I am hopeful that our profession will abandon the use of this system and share this information with students, colleagues, and clients.

I have introduced my views of this system on my forum and also with our NCN in several logs; however, I believe that Dr. Zur has made the best case for abandoning this flawed system and stop labeling our clients and others. If for no other reason, we should be aware that once a patient or client is labeled with one of these disorders, it remains with them for their entire life. I don't know of any program that is designed to change a diagnosis to 'cured' once they are identified with a diagnosis. And, because these patient labels/codes are not held in confidence and are added to numerous databases with insurance companies and other health resources, we are causing great harm to those who trust us and believe that their records are private or confidential.[link]


Diagnosing for Status and Money - A Critical Look at the DSM and the economic forces that shape it."

In principal, mental health diagnoses can be helpful to clinicians and researchers in their formulation of treatment, research and communication with other professionals. Unfortunately, the DSM has been shaped by economic and political influences rather than by scientific and medical ones. The DSM assigns diagnoses in a biased manner, resulting in more harm than good to our patients, their families and society at large while delivering huge profits to pharmaceutical companies. Women, children, minorities, lower income and older people are the groups most likely to be negatively affected by the biases presented in the DSM.

A newly published article: DSM: Diagnosing for Status and Money
Online Course for 4 CE Credits: DSM: Diagnosing for Money and Power

DSM Recap:

The DSM has been called the billing bible of psychiatry and has become one of the most influential texts in the field of mental health.

The DSM is a powerful tool of social control: its criteria are used to judge who is normal or abnormal, sane or insane or who should remain free or be hospitalized against their will.

Most texts and graduate and postgraduate courses present the DSM as an objective, scientific document. It is neither.

The DSM is primarily driven by the psychopharmacological industry, which reaps huge profits from each new diagnosis that can be treated with medication.

The frame of the DSM is distorted by a primarily intra-psychic-individual focus and tends to ignore contextual factors. It does not address what cannot be solved with a pill. It does not appropriately address patients who, in fact, are wrestling with social problems, such as sexism, racism, or homophobia, or existential anxieties regarding loneliness or death. Unfortunately, using the DSM, the dis-ease of such patients will be redefined as medically treatable maladies.

The DSM perpetuates the myth that the medical-mechanistic model can simply be applied to psychology.

Some clinicians have used the DSM categories as a form of "name calling".

Accordingly, the DSM gives some therapists an illusory feeling of power and superiority driven by the "power to name".

DSM-based research has repeatedly been shown to be of questionable validity and is, in fact, very unreliable.

Since its inception in 1952, the DSM has consistently viewed pathology as residing within the individual. Subsequent revisions in 1980 and 1987 have evolved toward a more firmly biological perspective.

In response to insurance companies' need for increasing specificity in diagnoses and the psychopharmacology industry's need for new markets, the number of available diagnostic labels rose from 297 in 1994 to 374 in 2000. The upcoming DSM V is likely to include hundreds more "new" (and profitable) mental disorders.
DSM is big business, not only for its publisher, the American Psychiatric Association, but even more so for the psychopharmacological industry, which profits from prescriptions written for the ever-increasing numbers of DSM disorders.
DSM pathologizes many normal and healthy behaviors:

Shyness: You are mentally ill if you are very introverted or extremely shy.

Grief: God forbid if you intensely grieve the loss of a beloved one for more than six months.

Depression: You must be mentally ill if you respond to real life issues or injustices with deep sadness and intense despair. (For more, see our online course: Depression.)

Anxiety: You must be mentally ill if your reaction to the existential reality of mortality or loneliness involves profound or debilitating anxiety. (For more, see our online course: Anxiety.)

Lack of Sexual Interest: Lack of sexual interest is often not a mental disorder. Many women may have good reasons to avoid sex that may stem from domestic abuse, overwork or other reasons. Kaschak and Tiefer (2001) discussed Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) as "a textbook case of disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry..." or what they call the "medicalization industry." (For more, see our online course: Feminist Sex Therapy.)

Spirited Children: DSM casts a very broad net around the ADHD diagnosis, and often includes millions of spirited, strong-willed, and highly gifted and creative children. It results in huge profits for medicating psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies. (For more, see our online course: ADHD: Myths or Facts.)
Online Course for 4 CE Credits: DSM: Diagnosing for Money and Power

Over 90 Online Courses

Email Dr. Ofer Zur
Visit the Zur Institute website.
Phone: 707 935-0655
Fax: 707 935-3918



Do visit Dr. Zur's discussion on the myth of touch by our mental health professions:

I recommend that all of our members and students, visit Dr. Zur's website for the most thorough understanding of the myth of the use of touch by all professionals, health, education, and human service programs. [link]

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31 May 2008 @ 17:52 by a-d : I LOVE it!...
it rings so true to me...So happy th hear that the Myth of the BADness of Touch in any kind of Therapy/Assisting in Healing!... When I was working the Floor (at any of my Floor Wards) I always sat at the edge of the Patients' bed, holding their hand when ever I talked with them.They never took offense, nor did they suffer any kind of trauma from it! Quite the opposite!:) ...and I always ended being the nurse they remembered! (THIS was the aspect of me nursing times I so cherished; the HUMAN Loving connection that one could make! )

I also love your quotes from the Zen Mind Beginners Mind. If you don't object I would like to post them on my web-site.

LOVELY Early-Summer day here today! : )

Hugs/to you all! / A-d

Thanks Jerry!  

1 Jun 2008 @ 00:19 by jerryvest : Thanks for your comments, Astrd...
Yes, it is so silly that all of these professions are so fearful of touch. I suspect that there will be a new DSM disorder created and some drugs prescribed for these fearful professionals. It's always amazed me that they accept money for their services, yet they don't trust themselves around their patients and clients.

This is a great link to see more about Ashley Montagu, our mutual friend. {link:}

Much love, Jerry  

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