October 20, 2018

DSM vs. Soul

By Inga Roizman

The manual in which to diagnose mental illness is the DSM. If you don’t know, DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. New “illnesses” are added every 10ish years as the culture’s atmosphere fluctuates.  While many of the diagnoses found in the text can be valid, the new DSM V is doing more harm than good. This book does it’s best to dissect the human condition and reduce personality traits and moods to numerical codes which are used to bill insurance.

One of the newest “illnesses” that doctors can now prescribe treatment for is grieving.  That’s right grieving is now considered a clinical disorder.  What?  Are they really trying to diagnose the human condition?

Now, I realize I sound a little chippy. And I am. And I just made up the word chippy, but it seems to describe how I’m feeling about the new DSM V.

Yes, grieving is painful, isn’t that what makes us human?  Imagine you lost someone you love.  Maybe your child suffered from an incurable disease.  Grieving over that loved one is part of the process that the living must go through.  Will medicating your feelings away bring back that person from death?  No, yet here we are.

Recently, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health published a blog outlining what research the U.S. government would fund. The NIMH has decided to no longer rely on the DSM, a text that has long been seen as a holy document in the realm of psychology…this is a huge deal.

Now let me introduce the RDoC, NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria.  It’s another book. It’s the one the drug companies will have to use to get funding for research in bipolar, schizophrenia, autism.  These guys want to look for biological causes.  I’m not against that.

I am against attaching a label, a code number that insurance companies can know them by when the human condition is ever changing, full of movement and growth and comes with many parts. 

G-d knows I’m not against drugs, but the soul of the human being is so often forgotten.

This hoopla is what has drawn me into the Positive Psychology movement, a model in which depression is treated with happiness. Where optimism is cultivated and hope is instilled through gratitude. 

The soul must find nourishment or it turns on itself. I believe it’s the job of anyone in the psychology field to help people find purpose and connection.  That’s the ideal we should all strive toward.