Mental illness and disorders-well defined by the DSM 5

The new Diagnostic and Statistical manual 5th edition (DSM 5) comes to the rescue for the future of mental health science Photo: DSM 5

WASHINGTON D.C., April 25, 2013 — “The brain is wider than the sky.”- Emily Dickinson.

Sanjay Paul, Professor of Psychology at Capella University, claims the importance and significance of the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM 5) produced by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the so-called bible for mental health professionals, cannot be overstated.

Mental health is one of the most rapidly changing sciences growing in leaps and bounds in the last 40 years with the addition of neuro-imaging, brain mapping and thousands of longitudinal (time line tested) studies to support and clarify mental disorders and illnesses.  What was a soft science of discussion has now become a hard science with hard data and reliable pedigree for diagnosis and treatment.

According to Paul, in the history of humanity, many existing mental health issues are now identified along with new issues resulting from the age of technology such as internet, cell phone and texting obsessions. Some pre-existing issues such as drug addiction is now front and center. In years before, there were no rehabilitation clinics and today, they number in the thousands.

Children exposed to rapidly altering mental landscapes due to computer games, series of short TV commercials, twittering, multiple TV channeling with little exposure to longer term thought processing to encourage concentration or focus may be assessed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Nine years in the making, 162 researchers of the DSM 5 divided into a 13 work group task force in association with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) and the World health Organization (WHO). They held hundreds of national and international conferences including cross-cultural advisors to include multi-cultural studies and research analysis from around the globe.

Significant insight and knowledge has been gained by the multitude of studies and research regarding learned, cultural, biological, and cognitive elements of behaviors as the world changes and offers new terms not previously heard in the lexicon of American language as little as 30 years ago.

In the physical world, such medical issues as Restless Leg Syndrome, Aids, HIV, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Diabetes 2, Hepatitis C, Metabolic Syndrome, and many more maladies have come to the fore with new treatments and medications never before available. The same applies to mental health.

Paul has identified the importance of standardization and origin of disorders as significant to the DSM 5. Diagnostic brain imaging for diagnostics and new psychotropic medications as a means for treatment are relatively new to the science of mental health.

With the greatest minds and facilities available for the most researched, studied and discussed diagnostic mental health tool in recent history, there are still critics, but there are critics for everything regardless of accuracy.

Some individuals in the field of mental health are writing negative article’s, somehow believing their opinions are superior to the massive amount of expert input for the new DSM. Some critics of the new DSM have no expertise whatsoever in the field of mental health. They criticize with no factual basis or understanding of psychology or psychiatry.

Early on, the APA posted on their website some preliminary findings. Writers took advantage and wrote poorly thought out articles in such significant volume that the APA took it down to avoid confusion. They said some of the content is already outdated with some content added and some removed.

Absurdly, there are critics devoting entire paragraphs demeaning the APA’s use of Roman numerals, yet this practice has been eliminated and overlooking the amount of collective science in the creation of the DSM 5.

Until white smoke is seen arising from the chimneys, the precise content of the new DSM 5 will remain a mystery.

Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.





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