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A Reference Book Makes the News!


It isn’t often that a reference book makes front page news, but the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition by the American Psychiatric Association, commonly known as DSM-5, is doing just that. Our copy has just arrived, and is on display in the Reference Room if you’d like to see what all the buzz is about. The Economist recently wrote a long article about the history of the DSM, which appeared in their May 18 2013 - May 24 2013 issue. As they write:

“A BOOK with the title “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition” does not sound destined to be a bestseller, particularly at $199 a pop. But DSM-5, as it is known for short, is almost certain to become one. Its predecessor, DSM-IV, which was published in 1994, has sold more than 1m copies. DSM-5, which will go on sale on May 22nd, is likely to do at least as well.

The reason is that the DSM series, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has become the global standard for the description of mental illness. Indeed, the DSM is treated by many people less as a medical handbook and more as holy writ. Insurers use it to decide whether or not to cover ailments. And diagnoses based on it determine whether people get special services at school; whether they qualify for disability benefits; whether they are stigmatised in their careers; even whether they are able to adopt children. Doctors, patients, drug companies and insurers have all thus been waiting for the latest edition of what has become known as the psychiatric bible.”

Amazingly, two books have already been published just this year (no doubt in anticipation of the DSM-5) on the topic of the DSM! One is called: The Book of Woe: the DSM and the unmaking of psychiatry by Gary Greenberg and the other is Saving Normal: an insider’s revolt against out-of-control psychiatric diagnosis, DSM-5, big pharma, and the medicalization of ordinary life by Allen Frances.

So stop by the Reference Room and take a look at the book that is creating the news!

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