Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Upcoming DSM V

 Somewhere there is a group of mental health professionals creating DSM V.  We hear that some diagnoses are going to be revised extensively, in ways that are going to affect insurance and government benefits.

I imagine these effete intellectuals, ensconced in luxurious meeting rooms, discussing the scholarly correctness of obscure terminology in light of the most advanced research, people assured of high income by their esoteric expertise, imagining that the academic integrity of their writing is the highest goal they can strive for, fundamentally out of reach of the people whose lives their deliberations will affect, perhaps even devastate.

This is the wrong process.  Since the determinations that these people make will so dramatically affect benefits, potentially for millions of people, a more transparent process is needed, preferably involving open meetings and government oversight.

The classification of phenomena into categories is a pedantic endeavor that can never finish, because, fundamentally, natural phenomena are not clearly classifiable.  Categories can keep morphing indefinitely, often in response to relatively minor concerns, and may change back and forth, fairly arbitrarily.

If only academics are affected, there is no harm in so altering categories.   When millions of people are affected, the burden of trying to achieve pedantic perfection weighs too heavily on the public.  The academic process of classifying natural phenomena should not determine the nature of insurance and government benefits.

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