The Dsm Essay

1949 words - 8 pages

The Diagnostic and Statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association. Its purpose is to enable those in the health sector to communicate using a common diagnostic language. Its predecessor, the Statistical Manual for the Use of Institutions for the Insane was published in 1917, which had the main aim of gathering statistics about mental disorders across mental hospitals. During WWII the U.S. Army developed a much broader classification system in order to treat outpatient servicemen and veterans. At this time the World Health Organisation was constructing the sixth version of ICD (International Statistical Classification of diseases) ...view middle of the document...

Axis 4 focuses on psychosocial and environmental factors which may be affecting the disorder and Axis 5 gives an assessment of global functioning which is a scale of 1-100 used to rate the social, occupational, and psychological functioning of adults.
The main benefit of the DSM is that it provides a detailed account of mental disorders offering information which can aid the treatment of patients, through supporting psychiatrists, and others who wish to help a person with a disorder. The DSM is also responsible for bringing conditions into the public eye and influencing clinical guidelines. Previous versions of the DSM were arguably responsible for making certain conditions better known in the UK, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder. The manual is developed using current and widely accepted research, which can give patients confidence that their diagnosis is likely to be accurate rather than simply the subjective opinion of a healthcare professional. The UK mental health charity Mind, support the DSM, making the point that once a patient receives a diagnosis, as well as receiving appropriate treatment, they will have greater access to other support and services, including legal and financial benefits. In certain circumstances a DSM diagnosis can be crucial for a person with a disorder, to protect them in a legal court, for receiving health insurance, or financial support allocated by the government. For example many insurance carriers consider treatment of mental health disorders to be medically necessary and will provide coverage. Without a DSM-IV diagnosis, counselling and medication may not be considered by insurance companies for payment, as it can be considered an elective service. The British legal system protects those who suffer from certain mental disorders from certain crimes as a person may not be fully in control of their actions due to a disorder and should therefore be exempt from the sanctions that would be given, if they did not have a disorder. Although a valid DSM diagnosis enabling a patient to receive beneficial and deserved support in their country’s legal system and from their health insurance is clearly a positive outcome, there is room for ethical debate around the issues that can be caused by the power and perceived importance of a diagnosis. For instance a person could suffer from a mental disorder, but they may not fit well enough with the specific requirements of the DSM, and therefore may receive no deserved financial support or legal protection. There is also the possibility that these systems can be manipulated. Criminals may attempt to receive a more lenient sentence by playing up to characteristics of a disorder documented in the DSM. However this is not a direct criticism of the DSM itself, but rather challenging its role in certain societies. Another advantage of the DSM is its contribution to further research of mental health. Attempting to collate together...

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