More DSM-5 controversy from across the pond

According to this article in The Guardian, tomorrow the British Psychological Society’s Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) will be releasing a statement calling for a “paradigm shift” in how mental health is understood. They are expressing concerns about the diagnostic assumptions being made by the DSM.

What’s fascinating is that the DCP’s problem with the DSM-5 is the opposite of the issue that the NIMH cited (and I wrote about last week).  According to Dr. Lucy Johnstone, who helped draft the DCP statement, a chief concern was the focus on biological causality:

On the contrary, there is now overwhelming evidence that people break down as a result of a complex mix of social and psychological circumstances – bereavement and loss, poverty and discrimination, trauma and abuse.

I think most medical anthropologists would agree, without denying the interaction of biology:  chemical interactions with the environment, diet and nutrition, genetics and epigenetics, etc.

That groups are taking such diametrically opposed views in criticizing the same publication makes me wonder if the DSM-5 is being used as a scapegoat for long-held resentments and a catalyst for change.  I don’t see the DSM as either particularly biological or sociocultural, but neither is it a moderate middle ground between two extreme views.  It seems that each side is interpreting the DSM to create a foil for its goals.

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