What is the DSM? ”The DSM has attracted praise for standardizing psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria. It has also attracted controversy and criticism. Some critics argue that the DSM represents an unscientific system that enshrines the opinions of a few powerful psychiatrists. There are ongoing issues concerning the validity and reliability of the diagnostic categories; the reliance on superficial symptoms; the use of artificial dividing lines between categories and from ‘normality‘; possible cultural bias; medicalization of human distress and financial conflicts of interest, including with the practice of psychiatrists and with the pharmaceutical industry; political controversies about the inclusion or exclusion of diagnoses from the manual, in general or in regard to specific issues; and the experience of those who are most directly affected by the manual by being diagnosed, including the consumer/survivor movement.”
Most relevant to Parental Alienation Child Abuse this the political controversies and the National Organization of Women influencing (using surrogates) the application of ambiguous and more stringent levels of proof than for many other diagnostic categories.
Diagnosing the D.S.M. Opinion by Allen Frances, a former chairman of the psychiatry department at Duke University School of Medicine, led the task force that produced D.S.M.-4. A version of this op-ed appeared in print on May 12, 2012, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Diagnosing the D.S.M. For reference in case the NY Times link goes bad, local archive is here.
“Indeed, the D.S.M. is the victim of its own success and is accorded the authority of a bible in areas well beyond its competence. It has become the arbiter of who is ill and who is not — and often the primary determinant of treatment decisions, insurance eligibility, disability payments and who gets special school services. D.S.M. drives the direction of research and the approval of new drugs. It is widely used (and misused) in the courts.”