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Monday, December 26, 2011

Dr. Robert Gordon's Comment on DSM

Recently, Dr. Robert Gordon posted a comment on the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's listserv about the upcoming DSM-5 revision.

I have been writing to the DSM 5 committee my suggestions and concerns. However, I do not like the DSM. I use a combination of the ICD and PDM. The DSM is American psychiatry's political motive to put mental health care under their umbrella.

As I commonly state in court, "The DSM is a product of a particular guild and it has no legal or scientific authority. My diagnostic opinion is based on the best available research."

 Yet, in over 100 years, the American Psychological Association has not been able to do better. We argue a lot among ourselves, but we have failed to produce a diagnostic system that is better than the DSM.

The international psychodynamic community produced the excellent Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM 2006).


Robert Gordon, PhD ABPP
The Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM Task Force, 2006) is the first psychological diagnostic classification system that considers the whole person in various stages of development. A task force of five major psychoanalytic organizations and leading researchers, under the guidance of Stanley I. Greenspan, Nancy McWilliams, and Robert Wallerstein came together to develop the PDM. The resulting nosology goes from the deep structural foundation of personality to the surface symptoms that include the integration of behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning.

The PDM improves on the existing diagnostic systems by considering the full range of mental functioning. In addition to culling years of psychoanalytic studies of etiology and pathogenesis, the PDM relies on research in neuroscience, treatment outcome, infant and child development, and personality assessment.

The PDM does not look at symptom patterns described in isolation, as do the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM). Research on brain development and the maturation of mental processes suggests that patterns of behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and social functioning involve many areas working together rather than in isolation. Although it is based on psychodynamic theory and supporting research, the PDM is not doctrinaire in its presentation. It may be used in conjunction with the ICD or DSM. The PDM Task Force made an effort to use language that is accessible to all the schools of psychology. It was developed to be particularly useful in case formulation that could improve the effectiveness of any psychological intervention.

The PDM has received very favorable reviews from mostly the psychoanalytic community (Clemens, 2007; Ekstrom, 2007; Migone, 2006; and Silvio, 2007).  However, even non-psychodynamic psychologists that were introduced to the PDM as part of MMPI-2 and ethics/risk management workshops had a positive reaction to the new diagnostic system.  Ninety percent of 192 psychologists surveyed (65 Psychodynamic, 76 CBT and 51 Family Systems, Humanistic/Existential, Eclectic with no primary preference) rated the PDM as favorable to very favorable (Gordon, 2008).

The entire article is here.