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Monday, May 6, 2013

Leaving aside the DSM: patients deserve better diagnostics

Last Friday, may 3rd, 2013, National Institute of Health Mental (NIMH) of the United States announced that decide to abandon the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),  after decades of being used as the means of diagnosis for excellence not only in the United States but at many other countries for the treatment of the mental diseases that attack humans from infancy to old age.
The news comes a few days before that the Fifth version of this Manual comes to light after some changes that can be considered minimum, especially in the subject of neurodevelopmental, among which was the reconsideration of Asperger syndrome as part of the autism spectrum disorders.

This news is announced with a tone of sarcasm by different media and social networks to refer to the DSM as the Bible of Psychiatry, which was of course used as a clinical diagnostic tool for most of the mental health disorders and which was translated into several languages in order to unify internationally, regardless of phenotypic aspects.

However, this does not mean that we  should burn the DSM and much less that new version shouldn't be  received favorably, unlike what many journalistic notes say, separation is not divorce, it is only the gate to allow further diagnostic tools for the treatment of mental illness. 

On the web site of the American Psychiatric Association, it was announced very recently  that at 22de may of 2013 would appear the fifth version DMS after two years of intense reviews involving more than 13 000 thousand comments, more than 12,000 e-mails and the work of at least 13 working groups, thus achieving unified criteria among the scientific community.

Although had been mentioned in various clinical forums that the Manual had a tradition of reductive of sufferings, it seemed impossible that this could change, as the length and breadth of the planet was used as the wand able to choose not only the treatment of patients, but its future development having medical, educational and legal inference.

One of the main problems is that continuous attributing illness to each clinical entity based on principles that do not necessarily occur together in time and space in the symptomatology of the patient and that it did not allow in many cases, to carry out further studies of contrast.

The story began in 1952 when the first version of the Manual was published under various research that emerged after the second world war who sought to evaluate mental health in surviving soldiers in the fields of combat the problem and that returned home confused.

Previously, in 1949, the World Health Organization had published the classification and statistics International of diseases (ICD) which included a special section for the first time for mental disorders.

Over the years the DSM had several reviews, the second published in 1968, the third in 1980, the fourth in 1994 and the fifth waiting be published on May 22, 2013.

The reasons for which the National Institute of Mental Health of the United States decides to put away the Diagnostic Manual may be many, from voices that cry out that it is not possible to classify nosologic entities  from a group of symptoms, such as disorders of autism spectrum disorders or attention deficit, which did not allow to physicians give clear attention to patients to the desperate claim of several researchers who watched as nationwide increased the number of cases of autism and attention Deficit, depression and bipolar disorders.

The truth is that neurocognitive and physiological, genetic research have given breakthroughs and not can continue to be ignored, so that the look will now rest on a project that has already gone way called Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) seeking to be considered irregular psychological component to the understanding of mental illness in cognitive terms, as well as neural and genetic differences.

While the DSM criteria allowed the overlaps in Diagnostics, for example it was possible to recognise a child with Down syndrome and autism, usually granted a single diagnosis of the classification, which would let physicians in a professional helplessness that sometimes you should work in a despite health and conditions of the patient.

On the other hand, in the case of autistic spectrum disorders, usually pediatrician only could treat only observable symptoms, it doesn’t matter were they could begin as perinatal, genetic or environmental difficulties that may occur as roots of  the symptoms leaving the children and their families under cover of drugs that were not always prescribed whereas clinical laboratory studies.

In this sense one of the potential benefits of the removal of the traditional psychiatric model is that it will be possible, on the one hand analyze further disorders, whereas influential factors, from genetic, environmental, and clinical and on the other hand, will force mental health professionals require greater diagnostic tools.

In this context, it may be possible to see people beyond the label which is granted, in addition to any other forms of treatment as well as the magic pill cure it all to which traditional Psychiatry we had used.

Neurocognitive research will finally have application beyond than only basic research, although to all power, it will be a great responsibility, as Spider man says, it is also true that psychological research and neuroscience is under scrutiny because of several works that have been considered lacking in ethics, so will just be waiting for the benefit of patients and their families who deserve, no doubt much more respect, including more and better health care professionals.

Meanwhile, it should not be forgotten that the context of the United States is very different from the rest of the countries, however, as I mentioned elsewhere, there to continue the investigations underway and wait for the response from the international scientific community.


American Psychiatry Association (2013) DSM-5 Development. Available at:

Drummond K (2013) Federal Institute for mental health abandons controversial "bible" of psychiatry. Available at:

Dzib Goodin (2013) The disorder or attention: pay attention!. Available at:
Dzib Goodin, A (2010) Alteraciones del desarrollo por dificultades perinatales y la confusión con los trastornos del espectro autista. Revista de Neuropsicología. 5 (1) 4-9.

Dzib Goodn, (2012) Austism spectrum disorders: detection of abilities and not dis-abilities. Available at:

Mind Hacks (2013) National Institute of Mental Health abandoning the DSM. Available at:

Reese, H. (2013) The real problem of psychiatry. The Atlantic. Avaliable at:

Toor, a. (2013) Controversial update to "bible" of psychiatry fuels debate over foundations of mental health: One book raises big questions. Avaliable at:

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