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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Medicating Grief

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, is the coding "bible" for those in the field of mental health and psychiatry.  Generally speaking it is the guide used to categorize "disorders" so you can get paid by third party payers.

The issue discussed in this article is not new to me because I have seen this model applied since the late 80s when I was working in community mental health.  The practice predates my experience.

I cannot think of a more inhumane treatment offered in health care.  To conspire to deprive people of the important participation in their grief is a grievous disservice. 

As Allen Frances, emeritus professor and former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University, writes : A startling suggestion is buried in the fine print describing proposed changes for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — perhaps better known as the D.S.M. 5, the book that will set the new boundary between mental disorder and normality. If this suggestion is adopted, many people who experience completely normal grief could be mislabeled as having a psychiatric problem.

His complete article is here and I strongly encourage everyone to read this.

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