Drawing the lines between quirky behavior and potential mental disorder can be, well, a sketchy business, but psychiatrists working on the fifth iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) are doing just that right now, sparking debates within and outside of their community about possible new additions to the manual.


The New York Times:

Experts say that some of the most crucial debates are likely to include gender identity, diagnoses of illness involving children, and addictions like shopping and eating.

“Many of these are going to involve huge fights, I expect,” said Dr. Michael First, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia who edited the fourth edition of the manual but is not involved in the fifth.

One example, Dr. First said, is binge eating, now in the manual’s appendix as a tentative category.

“A lot of people want that included in the manual,” Dr. First said, “and there’s some research out there, some evidence that drugs are helpful. But binge eating is also a normal behavior, and you run the risk of labeling up to 30 percent of people with a disorder they don’t really have.”

The debate over gender identity, characterized in the manual as “strong and persistent cross-gender identification,” is already burning hot among transgender people. Soon after the psychiatric association named the group of researchers working on sexual and gender identity, advocates circulated online petitions objecting to two members whose work they considered demeaning.

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