I have been a critic of psychiatry for many years because I see it as a pseudo-science rather than a science and the new DSM 5 doesn't do anything to allay those concerns. The DSM is short for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the first edition was printed in 1952. The first edition relied largely on the experiences of service members who had returned from World War II. That was followed by DSM II in 1968, DSM III in 1980, DSM IV in 2000 and DSM V, scheduled to be published next year. Long before the first DSM was published, 22 psychiatric diagnoses were listed in a 1917 manual. 350 were listed in the latest DSM and that number is expected to increase significantly with the DSM V, although the hundreds of psychologists and psychiatrists contributing to the book were required to sign nondisclosure agreements which prevent them from revealing any text before it is published in May of 2013.
It is believed the new manual will make binge eating a formal diagnosis with an imprecise, almost laughable definition: "eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat." They're also considering formal diagnoses for Internet addiction and sex addiction.
Despite all the furor surrounding the new publication, the DSM 5 will almost certainly help APA (American Psychiatric Association) members bill insurance companies for more conditions and I suspect that is the driving force behind it to begin with because in America in 2012, regardless of the subject, all you have to do is follow the money.
Although I know it's hard for many of my readers to accept, I'm pretty old-school in many ways and that has to do with being a child in the '50s and '60s. When a child misbehaved at home or at school, they were punished and the behavior was extinguished. Then psychiatry developed the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), developed Ritalin to "calm" the disorder and overnight, redefined the trouble-makers as victims. My former wife told me a couple of years ago that over three fourths of the 5 year olds in her kindergarten class were on regular doses of Ritalin as a result of their ADD diagnosis.
Psychology is responsible for the new trend of giving every participant in an athletic event a participation medal so that the losers won't get their feelings hurt. When I was in school, you got to graduate twice; once from high school and once from college. Now we have kindergarten graduation, grade school graduation and junior high graduation so the children can experience completing a goal early on. That "accomplishment" is then expected to empower them to complete other goals as they trudge through life.
But the most overpowering evidence of pseudo-science takes place in criminal trials across the country when a defendant pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. During trial, the prosecutor calls one or more psychiatrists who testify that the defendant is sane while the defense attorney calls one or more psychiatrists to testify that the defendant is insane. That's simply art posing as science. Science yields quantifiable results which have to be verified in replicated studies before the theory is accepted as fact. In the trial scenario, you have just the opposite result.
Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, authored a book in 1960 called "The Myth of Mental Illness" that has since become a classic for those who question the scientific validity of psychiatry and psychology.
He claimed that the only kind of mental illness a person could have would be the result of a neurological malady that would be clearly observable to any scientist that looked. Any other condition that didn't have a physical cause was nothing more than "problems in living" as he put it.
People are insecure about many things and those insecurities cause some people to act away from the norm as a way of compensating for their shortcomings. We're insecure about our status or our income or our education or our social skills and so some of us overeat, overindulge in alcohol or drugs, gamble excessively, brag to others constantly about the achievements they accomplished once upon a time, and many other coping mechanisms that sometimes help them get through the day but just as often, make their situations even worse.
This is what Szasz called problems in living; it's what the DSM V will call a mental illness.