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Feature DSM-5

American Psychiatric Association explains DSM-5

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 06 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3591
  1. Bob Roehr, journalist
  1. 1Washington, DC
  1. BobRoehr{at}

Rarely can any publication have received as much public criticism as DSM-5, before its release. Bob Roehr reports the APA’s response from the official launch

Revision of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the first since 1994, has spanned more than a decade. The process has served as a lightening rod, drawing criticism from within and outside of the psychiatric community. That criticism intensified in the weeks leading up to the official release of DSM-5, while the APA largely kept silent.

So it is perhaps understandable that the organization seemed a bit defensive at the news conference that unveiled the DSM-5 on 18 May in San Francisco at the start of their 166th annual meeting. Reporters could only submit questions in writing, they were not allowed to pose them directly or ask follow-ups. That tactic was not employed for the news conference on the meeting itself, which followed a few minutes later. The APA clearly was intent on controlling the forum and its message.

“The DSM-5 is an investment into the future of mental health, one that will allow for more precise identification of mental disorders,” claimed APA president Dilip V Jeste, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego. An early public draft of the document generated more than 15 000 comments that helped “refine the criteria and strengthen the manual” in its final language.

“The manual is first and foremost a guidebook for clinicians,” though it is used by many others, said David Kupfer. …

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