British Psychological Society Critiques the DSM-5


The British Psychological Society has “serious concerns about many aspects of the framework. In our response we have argued that the categorical framework of DSM-V is flawed in that it fails to take account of the evidence for the dimensional spectrum of psychiatric symptoms such as low mood, hearing voices, unusual beliefs etc in the general population. We have also highlighted significant concerns about lowering of diagnositic thresholds and the validity ‘catch all’ diagnostic categoroies that exist within DSM-V such as ‘ADHD not elsewhere classified’, which we are concerned have poor inter rater reliability. We are concerned that both of these aspects lead to the risk of overdiagnosis and thereby potentially unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment with medication.”

Press Release → 


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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. The BPS rsponse is not impressive and doesn’t get at the core issues. One way this can be seen is in the phrase about the “dimensional spectrum….. in the general population”. So are people with these conditions not part of the general population? if not, then what population are “they” are part of? And just how many populations are there?

    Take off your lab coats and roll up your sleeves, BPS!

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  2. I don’t know how significant the BPS is, but talking about the dimensional spectrum of symptoms in the general population is one small step from questioning the whole diagnostic construct. This was a question that ten years ago felt utterly subversive, and risky to say publicly, and is now the official statement of (what may be) a significant psychological society.

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  3. In the polite world of disagreement among professional societies, the British Psychological Society’s is a fairly strong critical statement.

    The BPS was criticizing the DSM-5 before US psychology societies. Good for them, and let’s have more of it.

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