Scientific American Reviews the DSM


In a continuing series, Scientific American analyzes the “Trouble at the Heart of Psychiatry’s Revised Rule Book.”

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Part 1: Psychiatrists Are About to Shift the Boundaries between Sane and Insane by Ingrid Wickelgren
Part 2: Science Remains a Stranger to Psychiatry’s New Bible  Ferris Jabr explains why science has so far played only a bit part in the creation of the new DSM.
Part 3 Trouble at the Heart of Psychiatry’s Revised Rule Book Edward Shorter, a historian of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, argues that the principal diagnoses of the DSM—depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder—are artifacts and should essentially be discarded.
Part 4: The Gloom-and-Doom Disease: Should Woody Allens Have a Home in the Manual of Mental Illness? By Ingrid Wickelgren
Part 5:  Why Are There No Biological Tests in Psychiatry?  Allen Frances, the chief framer of the DSM-IV, tells us why we lack biological tests for mental illness and how that deficiency hurts diagnosis.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Allen Frances has produced the previous DSM IV, and IV-TR. This is the current volume that is used to diagnose people. I find it deeply strange and suspicious that AF has come out to criticize DSM Cinco when it is only marginally different from his own work. Nearly everything is identical. Whats going on there!

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