By Martyn Pickersgill
Journal of Medical Ethics
J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2013-101762
The development of the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the DSM-5—has reenergised and driven further forward critical discourse about the place and role of diagnosis in mental health. The DSM-5 has attracted considerable criticism, not least about its role in processes of medicalisation. This paper suggests the need for a sociology of psychiatric critique. Sociological analysis can help map fields of contention, and cast fresh light on the assumptions and nuances of debate around the DSM-5; it underscores the importance of diagnosis to the governance of social and clinical life, as well as the wider discourses critical commentaries connect with and are activated by. More normatively, a sociology of critique can indicate which interests and values are structuring the dialogues being articulated, and just how diverse clinical opinion regarding the DSM can actually be. This has implications for the considerations of health services and policy decision-makers who might look to such debates for guidance.
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