There has been so much controversy over the process by which the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is being revised, that relatively little attention has been paid to the changes to the diagnostic categories that are being proposed.
A new piece by Stephanie Pappas in Live Science fills that gap, however. She notes that, under the proposals of the DSM revision committee, Asperger’s Syndrome would be dropped, and the condition folded into Autisim Spectrum Disorder as a high functioning type. A new diagnosis of “temper dysregulation with dysphoria” would be created for children who are highly irritable and have extreme temper tantrums. A number of “behavioral” addictions (such as gambling) would be introduced as well. There is also continuing controversy over how to handle anomalies of gender identity. Some advocacy groups for the transgendered want “gender identity disorder” to be dropped entirely because it stigmatizes unconventional expression of gender as an illness. Some psychiatrists point out, however, that without a diagnosis in the DSM, insurance companies will not cover the hormone treatments and surgery that these people sometimes require.
Perhaps most controversial are the newly proposed “risk syndromes” which would aim to identify disorders before they become full-blown mental illnesses. Critics, however, claim that these would simply serve to further extend the reach of psychiatry into areas of life that are not properly within the discipline’s purview.