Strength and weaknesses of DSM5

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of DSM-IV TR, as well as new changes for DSM-V.

DSM-IV TR, which stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition), Text Revision was published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2000 and serves as a guide book for many health professionals to diagnose a patient with a mental disorder. It also helps health professionals to determine what types of treatment could be carried out to help the patient. The latest DSM is widely used, especially in the USA and many European countries.1However, it may not be completely followed by health professionals as they know that there are some weaknesses of the latest version of DSM as well. This essay will discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of the latest DSM and new changes for the DSM-V, which is expected to be published in May, 2013.

DSM's strength would be that it standardizes psychiatric diagnostic categories and criteria2, making the diagnosis of a mental disorder relatively easier than it was in the past. It allows health professionals to diagnose a patient, use the DSM to give them possibly the best treatment and overall, help them to cure the patients if the disorder is curable. DSM also has statistical data such as the prevalence of a certain disease in different genders, age of onset of diseases, etc. This allows health professionals to have a very wide range of knowledge which may be very useful for diagnosis and treatments. Besides, the DSM allows a common language for discussing diagnosis. It provides clear criteria for certain disorders so that every clinician would come up with the same diagnosis. This makes sure that a person is not diagnosed with different types of disorders in different clinics.Thus, treating patients more efficiently.

Compared to the older versions of the DSM, the latest DSM also has more subtypes and specifiers which increases the diagnostic specificity. As I mentioned before, this increases the chance of diagnosing a patient with the same disorder in different clinics, assuring that they are diagnosed with the correct disorder as misdiagnosing them could possibly lead to serious damage.

For some disorders, such as bipolar disorder, there are severity indicators such as mild, moderate and severe as well. This helps clinician to decide the course of the treatment according to the severity of their disorder. This is one of the strength of DSM as using the same treatment for different severity of the same disorder will not be very appropriate or efficient. However, this severity indicator is absent in some disorders such as manic episodes which is one of the weaknesses of DSM-IV TR.

These were some of the strengths of DSM-IV TR. However, we know that another edition of DSM, DSM-V is expected to be published soon. This is obviously because there are some, or many weaknesses in the current DSM with which people are not satisfied.

One of the major weakness of the current DSM and probably all the older editions is “Cultural Bias”. DSMs are mainly published by anglo-Americans and most of the behaviour that is considered as “normal” in the DSM is actually what is considered normal by the anglo-Americans. That is, some of the behaviour that is considered as abnormal in the DSM might be considered as normal in other cultures. For example, in some cultures, people tend to put a lot of emphasis and values filial piety and due to that, they would behave in a way that might not be considered as normal by the anglo-Americans. Would that classify them as abnormal? What exactly is normal anyways? According to the DSM, it it, I believe, what is considered as normal by the anglo-Americans. This is one of the weaknesses of the DSM which is well-known and I think it is because of this reason that DSM might not be as popular in countries where the culture is much different compared to countries like the USA and many European countries.

Another weakness would be that...


Bibliography: Berman, J. (n.d.). Understanding the DSM-IV TR. Retrieved on 15th March, 2013, from http://www.ceuschool.com/librarydocs/SOC222.pdf
Dombeck, M., Hoermann, S., Zupanick, E.C
Flanagan, E., Davidson, L. & Strauss, J. (2007). “Issues for DSM-V: Incorporating Patients’ Subjective Experiences.” Am. J. Psychiatry, 164(3), 391 – 392.
Kleinplatz, P.J., Moser. C. (2005). DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal. Retrieved on 14th March, 2013, from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/GESUND/ARCHIV/MoserKleinplatz.htm
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American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC.
Bipolar Disorder in Children. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 14th March, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bipolar_disorder_in_children
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Rosenhan Experiment. Wikipedia. Retrieved on 14th March, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment
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