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Dayle Jones
Mar 20, 2012

DSM-5: Can You Hear Me Now?

I recently met some mental health professionals who told me that my blogs on DSM-5 were inflammatory and not helpful to the DSM-5 development process.

This comment gave me pause for thought – why am I writing so critically about DSM-5?

Over the last year or so, I’ve consistently expressed my concerns about the upcoming manual. I’ve written about the lowered symptom requirements, new “subthreshold” disorders, complex dimensional assessments, problematic research methodology, and unintended consequences. Most of the time, I’ve tried to present my arguments logically, using a professional, academic tone.

But I found that this style of writing doesn’t get much attention. So, my later blogs have been much more opinionated, and I admit, a bit inflammatory. Ironically, this style of writing hasn’t made much impact on the DSM-5 either.

I’m far from the only person writing about DSM-5. Since January, there have been over 200 news stories, articles and blogs published about DSM-5, including articles in the New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes Magazine, ABC, Huffington Post, Bloomberg and many, many more.

But it seems that the DSM-5 leadership hears none of the concerns. Let me restate this – I know they hear the concerns and criticisms, but they haven’t changed anything. They seem to respond defensively and become more adamant to stay the course. I can understand this somewhat because no one likes to hear criticism, and it’s natural to want to defend one’s position. But, this defensive stance may hurt the DSM-5 in the end.

My purpose in writing about DSM-5 is to help it, not to simply complain about it. I’m truly concerned about the DSM-5’s impact on counselors’ ability to accurately and efficiently diagnose a client. And I believe all those who have publicly criticized the DSM-5 development process want the same thing – we all want the DSM-5 to be methodologically sound, user-friendly and safe.

But how many articles and stories will it take for the DSM-5 leadership to hear our concerns? When will they stop and listen and consider changing its current path?

K. Dayle Jones is a counselor and associate professor at the University of Central Florida. Contact her at

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