Saybrook University President, Faculty Slam DSM-5 Revisions

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President Schulman calls changes "madness."

Despite the opposition of more than 50 mental health professional associations, professional journals, the press and the public, the American Psychiatric Association has given its final approval to egregious changes in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

Saybrook University, the only university so far to publicly oppose these changes, also reaffirmed its commitment to fight against an approach to mental health care that could lead to massive over-diagnosis and millions more Americans being put on medications they don’t need.

Under the new rules, relatives who spend more than two weeks grieving over the death of a loved one could be given a diagnosis of clinical depression, while children who are still throwing temper tantrums after age 6 could be put on powerful medication.

Saybrook’s President, Mark Schulman, challenged the association’s updates in a piece in the Huffington Post.

“This is madness,” Schulman said. “Millions of people who are perfectly healthy, who are not sick but are looking for help, will be forcibly turned into customers for the pharmaceutical industry. Most patients come to therapy not because they have neural chemical imbalances, but because they are grappling with fundamental questions: how do I live a meaningful life in a challenging world? How do I live with integrity? How do I repair my relationships? How do I live in harmony with my environment? Am I alone? What does my life mean?”

Saybrook’s school of Clinical Psychology has been particularly vocal about the upcoming changes, with an entire section on their blog, The New Existentialists, covering the history, criticisms and support for the process. Chief among the warnings is the fear that the so-called “Bible of Psychiatry” is pathologizing everyday emotions, cognitions and behaviors.

“We will see drastic increases in the number of diagnoses: distressed, tantruming children will be labeled and medicated for ‘disruptive mood dysregulation,’ grieving individuals will be medicated for clinical depression, and those suffering with the worries from everyday living will be medicated for generalized anxiety disorder,’ Shawn Rubin, chair of Clinical Psychology at Saybrook and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, said. “Furthermore, our holistic and complex psychological experiences are increasingly being reduced to neurobiological phenomena and treated primarily with medication while a blind eye is turned to the powerful impact of socio-cultural stressors.”

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is due to be published in May 2013. Additional protests are being planned. For more information, visit http://www.newexistentialists.com/dsm5

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Jessica Pearce
Saybrook University
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