UH Expert Available to Discuss Controversy on DSM-5

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) No Longer Funds Research Based on DSM

Hannah S. Decker, professor of history at the University of Houston (UH), is available to discuss the controversy on the new fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V) published by the American Psychiatric Association.  Professor Decker can comment on the changes to DSM-V and what they mean for mental health treatment, as well as the history of the pioneering third edition of the DSM. Reach her at 713-591-1213 or hsdecker@uh.eduDSM

According to a letter by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director Thomas R. Insel, M.D., the NIMH will no longer fund research based on DSM symptom clusters due to the lack of information on determining the cause and treatment of psychological problems. 

“DSM-V looks at mental disorders as existing in discrete categories depending on the patient’s signs and symptoms. Clinicians arrive at a diagnosis by matching the signs and symptoms with the specific ‘diagnostic criteria’ listed in the DSM for each disorder. DSM-V is strictly descriptive. There is no discussion of causes of the disorders,” said Decker. “This approach to conceptualizing and classifying mental disorders began with the diagnostic manual’s ancestor, DSM-III (1980), which rejected the then dominant psychoanalytic views regarding the causes of the disorders. DSM-III also greatly enlarged the scope of psychiatric diagnoses.”

In addition to her role at UH, Decker serves an adjunct professor of medical history in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, and at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies in Houston. She is the author of the new book “The Making of the DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual’s Conquest of American Psychiatry.”


# # #