By Liah Greenfeld
Let us take a little break from the discussion of the historical development of modern emotions and modern mental disease—that is, of the modern mind-—pursued in the previous posts of this blog, and instead focus on the present. May 22 is the official publication date of the much-talked-about DSM-5, a significant day for all who are in any way concerned with mental health, patients as well as professionals who are trying to help them, and therefore for many in the Psychology Today community. The manual has been subject to severe criticism for months preceding its publication; it appears that hardly anyone has a good word to say about it, the time and effort spent in its preparation seems to have been largely wasted. The poor baby is likely to be dead on arrival, stillborn, its own family having turned away, unwilling to embrace it. Just a week ago the mighty NIMH all but completely renounced it.
But why is it such a disappointment? And who or what is to blame for the problems with DSM-5? The answer to the first question, I would say, lies not in anything DSM-5 contributes to the previous versions of the manual (whether in terms of additions or subtractions), but in what it does not change in them at all. The answer lies in that it does not solve the fundamental problem of psychiatry and psychology, i.e., does not provide them with the understanding of the human mental process—tthe mind—healthy or ill. This is, obviously, not a problem which the DSM-5 creates, or which was created by any of the preceding versions of this document. It is the problem at the core of the psychiatric/psychological/mental health establishment in its entirety-—both its research and its clinical branches, and including in the first place its central, most powerful, and richest institution, NIMH.