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The Petition Against DSM-5

Philip Thomas, MD
Philip Thomas, MD

The International DSM-5 Response Committee, sponsored by Division 32 of the American Psychological Association — the Society for Humanistic Psychology — now has an online petition against the DSM-5.  The Committee includes other Mad in America bloggers; Jack Carney, Dan Fisher, Jacqui Dillon, Lucy Johnstone, and Sami Timimi, some of whom have already written about the egregious nature of the new Manual. The following is the brief statement of concern taken from the website.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5):

  • Includes many diagnostic categories with questionable reliability, which may lead to misleading assumptions about their scientific validity;
  • Did not receive a much-needed and widely requested external scientific review;
  • May compromise patient safety through the implementation of lowered diagnostic thresholds and the introduction of new diagnostic categories that do not have sufficient empirical backing;
  • Is the result of a process that gives the impression of putting institutional needs ahead of public welfare.

… and, because of the above, we are concerned that DSM-5:

  • May result in the mislabeling of mental illness in people who would fare better without a psychiatric diagnosis;
  • May result in unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment with psychiatric medication;
  • May divert precious mental health resources away from those who most need them.

What, then, do we recommend?

These concerns should be resolved through concerted, interprofessional, international dialogue and scientific research. Until then, because there are safe and legal alternatives, clinicians, researchers, journal editors, healthcare planners, managers & commissioners, the pharmaceutical industry, and the media should avoid use of DSM-5 wherever possible.

This is a truly international effort. Please support the petition by signing it at


Philip Thomas, MD

English Madness: Co-founder and former co-chair of the Critical Psychiatry Network, psychiatrist Philip Thomas writes of madness, meaning and culture.

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