Home » Blogs » Therapy Soup » The DSM-5 Battles

The DSM-5 Battles

1185571_26641487French psychiatrist Patrick Landman, Allen Frances, (psychiatrist and chairman of the DMS IV), and others who work in mental health, are restating and renewing their public criticism of the the DSM-5.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and the APA recently went on the offense in response to the critics, calling them “anti-psychiatry.”

You can read more about it in this article by Allen Frances at Huffington Post.

One of the two main criticisms of the DSM-5 is that the closed publishing process shut-out too many professionals. The other criticism, which can’t actually be divorced from the process which produced it, is that there is what I call an “over-pathologization” of normal human feelings, behavior, and mental processes. That the DSM-5 is labeling some processes which used to be considered within the normal ranges of emotional health as mental disorders is what is concerning to Landman, Frances and others.

Drs. Frances and Landman are of the opinion that this might lead to people being over-diagnosed and over-medicated, and might even lead to false epidemics.

The APA is saying that the Drs. are anti-psychiatry.

I think that Dr. Landman makes what sounds like a reasonable argument when he writes:

“…saying that the DSM-5 will lead to over-diagnosis and over-medicalization of forms of behavior which for the longest time have been perceived as part of normal human variation (such as mourning) and that the DSM-5 will trigger new false epidemics and lead to inappropriate drug prescriptions which may turn out to be dangerous (especially in children) has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-psychiatry but rather accords with common sense and … yes, the defense of psychiatry.”

There are a couple of points to keep in mind.

Many people do indeed benefit from psychiatric medication. Others do not. Medication does not work for everyone and there is an art and a science to prescribing the correct medication and assessing the correct dosage.

Getting an accurate diagnosis (which may take time, by the way, as anyone who’s had their bipolar disorder or addiction misdiagnosed can tell you), is essential to getting the correct medication, if indeed medication is warranted.

But if as Dr. Frances and Landman say, we are accepting new disorders out of feelings and emotions and behaviors that are within the normal or even extreme-normal range of human mental and emotional health, we’ve got a problem indeed.

I haven’t read the DSM-5 cover-to-cover yet. I’m working on it.


The DSM-5 Battles

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

4 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2013). The DSM-5 Battles. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 May 2013
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.