The effect of stigma in the context of the new DSM-V is examined in a recent article in the Journal of Mental Health. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is widely used in North America to classify mental disorders, and is currently in its fourth edition. The DSM-V, which will replace the current edition, will be published in May 2013.
The authors argue that the DSM-V may increase stigma by pathologizing what are considered to be behaviours that fall within the range of normal human functioning. Proposed diagnostic categories that the authors question include apathy syndrome, complicated grief disorder and melancholia.
New to the DSM, however, is the addition of a dimensional approach to illness, which does not identify an individual by diagnosis, but considers the entire range of features presented by the illness. This approach is intended to change the way people with mental illness are perceived in an effort to reduce the stigma that is attached to a specific diagnosis.
The fifth edition of the DSM marks the first time a draft of the manual has been available for public review. This open process was intended to create transparency and to learn from people who experience the disorders catalogued.
See “DSM-V and the Stigma of Mental Illness,” Journal of Mental Health(August 2010; 19: 318–327), available at www.informahealthcare.com.