As regular readers of this blog know, we are very interested in the pros and cons of psychiatric diagnosis. We try to discuss this issue in an accessible way and reach as broad an audience as possible. It was a great pleasure, therefore, to be invited by Lewes Skeptics (a Sussex branch of the Skeptics in the Pub network) to give a talk about mental illness, diagnosis, and some of the controversies raised by the new version of the psychiatric classification manual DSM-5. We’ve since been asked to make the talk available more widely, so we’ve posted it below. It’s a video of the slides, accompanied by a soundtrack recorded on the night.
Over the last few months we’ve regularly featured pieces taking a critical line on the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and on psychiatric diagnosis more generally. We are nonetheless committed to offering a range of views on mental health. Today we feature an article taking a more pro-diagnosis position and offering a (possibly surprising) view on why the DSM is not always relevant to the consideration of distress. The author, Alex Langford, is a psychiatrist with clear views on both the value of diagnosis and the limits of classification schemes. What do you make of what he has to say? Alex has agreed to respond to comments over the next few days.
It’s a sobering thought that, for many people who use mental health services, other people’s reactions cause more distress than their original problems. And attitudes may even be getting worse. A recent report from the Department of Health found that whereas in 1997, 92% of people questioned agreed that ‘we need to adopt a more tolerant attitude towards people with mental illness’, in 2011 only 86% thought that we need to be more tolerant. Worryingly, young people appeared to be the most prejudiced.
On Sunday the12th of May, The UK Observer ran a front-page article stating that the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP), a subdivision of the British Psychological Society (BPS), was releasing a position statement calling for a ‘paradigm shift’ in mental health. The proposed shift was away from a view of mental health problems as illnesses with biological roots, and towards greater consideration of psychological and social factors.
The first of an occasional series where we ask departmental staff to give a shout out on what they’ve been reading recently.