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From The CriticsReviewer: Brett C. Plyler, M.D.(Northwestern Memorial Hospital)
Description: This book addresses the formation of the DSM-5 and the problems with the manual itself.
Purpose: The purpose is to discuss the issues underlying the DSM-5 and what has contributed to them.
Audience: The audience includes anyone interested in the field of mental health and the DSM-5 in particular.
Features: The book begins with historical and ideological perspectives, including the history of the DSM and the ideology behind the DSM-5. The next section continues in the same vein, but with more of a focus on conceptual ideas such as defining "mental disorder." Important here are the discussions around establishing normative validity and the death of dimensionality in the DSM-5 process. The last section details the philosophy behind each of the last three DSMs and addresses the problems of overdiagnosing and underdiagnosing. The conclusion is quite good, providing a succinct accounting of each chapter.
Assessment: This is an excellent counterpoint to the DSM-5 itself. It is not diagnostic tool, but instead makes readers aware of the problems with the DSM-5 and what has contributed to them. There is a great deal of discussion about making normal behavior pathological and the attempts to make neuroscience the basis of diagnoses. The writers are all experts in their field and were major players in the formation of the DSM-IV, so they speak from experience. The politics behind the "bible of psychiatry" are fascinating and at times depressing. It will definitely open readers' eyes to how little we still know and how artificial our constructs are for understanding mental illness. It is a short book and I would highly recommend taking the time to read it.