Its handbook is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). From Canada’s National Post:
For example, when director Thomas Insel recently announced the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health will henceforth ignore all the DSM’s diagnoses in deciding how to fund research, he bluntly declared that the book’s “weakness is its lack of validity.”
Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure,” he wrote. “In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.”
But the good news is that it started to decline in prestige before we were saddled with “evolutionary psychiatry.” Oh wait. Well, it won’t really get off the ground now, all five (left) feet flying.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose
We’ve talked about this before:
But why did anyone ever treat the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a Bible anyway?:
Only 3 per cent of DSM disorders have any known biological causes. The causes of the remaining 97 per cent – and this includes depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar and all personality disorders – are not known. The theory that chemical imbalances cause mental illness – that a serotonin deficiency causes depression, for example – is unproven. Billions of research dollars have been spent on trying to establish a link between neurotransmitters and mental disorder, and the attempts have failed. For all the scientific terminology, psychiatric diagnoses are based on subjective judgments.
Subjective judgements aren’t bad in fuzzy situations; the problem is pretending that they are something other than an experienced person’s best judgement.