Boycott the DSM-5!
Believe it or not, there’s some confusion about what “boycott” means. Bluntly, it means “Don’t purchase or use the object being boycotted.” Remember the United Farm Workers and table grapes and iceberg lettuce? I remember walking a picket line daily for weeks in front of my neighborhood supermarket carrying a sign urging customers entering the store not to buy grapes and lettuce. It must have worked – this was back in the 1970’s – because the grape and lettuce growers in California’s Salinas Valley were obliged to sign contracts with the UFW and its members.
The Committee to Boycott the DSM-5 is comprised of regular, not-so-famous mental health professionals, users of psychiatric services and their family members and those who’ve managed to survive many years as patients in the mental health system. In short, folks like many others, who’ve grown to mistrust and/or been adversely affected by the psychiatric establishment and its series of “bibles” or DSMs, and who anticipate even worse experiences with the new DSM-5. Our objectives are to trigger the memories and sensibilities of those – professionals, patients, family members and survivors – who’ve had similar unhappy experiences; convince the professionals neither to buy nor use the new DSM; encourage current patients to urge their psychotherapists and psychiatrists to neither buy nor use the DSM-5; and ask the survivors to do what they do best, viz., reach out to those they know still caught up in the system and support their efforts to press those who treat them to neither buy nor use the DSM-5.
I think you get the message.
The Boycott statement below contains a series of brief rationales for our opposition to the DSM-5: that it’s unscientific, unsound and ultimately unsafe; that it continues the DSM tradition of pathologizing ordinary behaviors – the new DSM will contain over 300 diagnostic categories, up from DSM-IV TR’s 250; that it narrows “treatment of choice” to the prescription of psychoactive medications despite their known toxicity and suspect effectiveness; that the APA has undermined its own credibility by disregarding the many criticisms of the DSM’s nosology.
If you’re so inclined, additional and more detailed critiques can be obtained on this very website in the several articles about DSM-5 written by me and others over the last 12 and more months. My last post was on December 10, 2012 and entitled “Boycott The DSM-5: Anachronistic Before Its Time.”
If we succeed in getting a sizable number of the millions of prospective DSM buyers to sign on to our Boycott statement, a copy of which you’ll find at the end of this post, we’ll put a sizable dent in the sales needed by the American Psychiatric Association to recoup its investment in the development of the new DSM.
Allen Frances, the most well-known critic of the DSM-5, has estimated that the new DSM cost the APA $25 million to bring to press, which explains the hefty price for each volume — $199 per – the APA is charging. Which translates to a break-even figure of 12.5 million buyers world-wide. The APA is already soliciting pre-orders of on its website, nearly four months before the new DSM’s scheduled mid-May publication.
One final point. We realize that all professionals employed in the public mental health system, indeed any professional or agency seeking third party reimbursement for services rendered, must use diagnostic codes. Accordingly, we are recommending that, if you must use diagnostic codes, use those contained in the ICD-9. Please be advised that you do not need to rely on the DSM’s codes – they are entirely superfluous to billing procedures, which, by U.S. law and international treaty, must employ ICD codes. Our recommendation should not be construed as an endorsement of the ICD – we consider all diagnoses reductive and demeaning to the persons so diagnosed. Rather, our recommendation to use the ICD codes is meant as a bureaucratic expedient for those obliged to use them. In short, anything but the DSM-5.
The Boycott statement itself can be found and signed by those who agree with its contents and intent at Boycott the DSM-5 (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/boycott5/) on petitions.com. I realize that our Boycott statement is far from perfect – frankly, it’s impossible to address or anticipate all the concerns of prospective supporters in a brief document. But, as I like to say, any rock that’s handy, I’ll toss it at the behemoth.
And that’s also why we have a companion information website — Boycott DSM-5— (http://boycott5committee.com) where additional information will be posted by the Committee and where those who wish to can post comments. Should any reader wish to join the Committee and do some work on its behalf or should you belong to an organization that might be interested in co-sponsoring the Boycott, please contact me via MIA e-mail, via our support website or directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I trust that most readers will find themselves able to support the Boycott and sign the Boycott statement. Feel free to cut and paste it, send it on to friends and colleagues, post it on your Facebook pages or websites. Thanks.
Remember, “Don’t mourn, organize! We are all prisoners of hope.”
For the Committee, Jack Carney
Carney, J., “Boycott The DSM-5: Anachronistic Before Its Time,” December 10, 2012, www.madinamerica.com/jcarney/author/
Frances, A., Price Gouging: Why Will DSM-5 Cost $199 a Copy? http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dsm5-in-distress/
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Boycott the DSM-5!
We, the undersigned, will not purchase nor will we use the new DSM-5 when it is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Further, those of us associated with professionals who use the DSM – as persons receiving services from them or as family members, friends or advocates – will urge service providers not to use the DSM-5:
• DSM-5 is unsafe and scientifically unsound.
Its categories or diagnoses, including newly introduced diagnoses, are not supported by scientific evidence. These diagnoses will pathologize rather than bring relief to persons in distress.
• DSM-5 will drastically expand psychiatric diagnosis, mislabel millions of people as mentally ill, and cause unnecessary treatment with medication.
All references to psychosocial, environmental and spiritual factors have been removed from DSM-5. This sends a clear message to clinicians that treatment for persons judged to have psychiatric disorders can be reduced to the prescription of psychoactive medications, despite growing concerns of their dangers and skepticism about their effectiveness.
• The APA has been unresponsive to widespread opposition.
The APA has been unresponsive to criticism received from professional, advocacy and lay public stakeholders during the three public reviews of its proposals. The concerns expressed by over 14,000 signatories to the “Open Letter to the DSM-5” and the request for independent, scientific review of proposed changes to the DSM have been ignored.
• The APA has undermined it own credibility, choosing to protect its intellectual property and publishing profits, not the public trust.
Accordingly, we agree to boycott the DSM-5 and to urge service providers and others not to use it. If we find ourselves obliged to employ diagnostic codes, we agree to disregard the new DSM and utilize the codes listed in the ICD-9 and the next edition of ICD, when the latter is implemented in October, 2014.
SPONSORED BY THE COMMITTEE TO BOYCOTT THE DSM-5
Up the River: A social worker, Jack Carney writes on the contradictions and hypocrisies of the public mental health system and promotes and applauds acts of resistance to it. In the words of the immortal Joe Hill, just before he was executed by a Utah firing squad, he likes to advise: “Don’t mourn, organize!”