Tag Archives: psychiatry. psychopathology

Edward Shorter on the History of DSM

Edward ShorterUniversity of Toronto historian of psychiatry Edward Shorter has written a fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal on the history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The article comes in the wake of controversy over the forthcoming 5th edition of the book, which is used by psychiatrists and many psychologists to diagnose the particular kinds of disorders from which theirĀ  patients and clients suffer.

Shorter declares at the start of the article that “Psychiatry seems to have lost its way in a forest of poorly verified diagnoses and ineffectual medications.” In the 1950s, the diagnostics terms used by psychiatrists were often the same as those used colloquially by their patients — “a case of the nerves,” or “nervous breakdown.” Now, Shorter says, “A patient with the same symptoms today might be told he has “social anxiety disorder” or “seasonal affective disorder.” The increased specificity is spurious. There is little risk of misdiagnosis, because the new disorders all respond to the same drugs, so in terms of treatment, the differentiation is meaningless.” Continue reading Edward Shorter on the History of DSM