Final 2 days: Submissions to third DSM-5 stakeholder review

 

Final 2 days for Submissions to third DSM-5 stakeholder review

Post #181 Shortlink: http://wp.me/pKrrB-2eX

There are only Thursday and Friday left before this third and final stakeholder review of proposals for DSM-5 categories and diagnostic criteria closes.

APA has failed to publish “full results” of its field trials – obliging professional, patient and public stakeholders to submit comment without the benefit of scrutinizing field trial data. That’s another APA schedule missed.

If any extension to the comment period is announced I will update.

The DSM-5 Development site has been slow to load, today, probably due to volume of traffic for both US and UK visitors and in some cases, not loading at all. If you are having problems try pulling up a page other than the Home Page and allow several minutes to load.

As with the two previous reviews, I am collating copies of submissions on these pages.

If you have submitted to the Somatic Symptom Disorder proposals or are a professional, professional body or advocacy organization that has submitted a general response which includes reference to the  Somatic Symptom Disorder proposals I would be pleased to receive a copy for publication on this site, subject to review, and posted in PDF format if more than a few pages long.

The most recent published submission is from “Joss”:

Submission from UK patient, Joss

I am writing to voice my concerns concerning the proposed category of Somatic Symptom Disorder.

Theoreticians of illness classification such as yourselves should be aware of the actual harm that could be caused to real people should this category be included in the DSM.

I would like to focus your minds with a real world example of how such a label might cause actual harm:

In 1998 I hurt my back. A scan showed a herniated disc but no further action was considered necessary. For the next three years my life was devastated by pain, I had bedsores and was pissing myself in bed from being unable to move. I believe that this was not taken seriously because I already had a pre-existing diagnosis of ME/CFS. The disbelief around my ME/CFS had already caused me problems obtaining the necessary help from medical services.

I believe that doctors thought I was ‘catastrophising’ and that had the SSD label been available to them they would have been able to categorise me as having:

‘Excessive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to these somatic symptoms or associated health concerns’

and, further, apply the three following highly subjective statements to me:

(1) Disproportionate and persistent thoughts about the seriousness of one’s symptoms.

(2) Persistently high level of anxiety about health or symptoms

(3) Excessive time and energy devoted to these symptoms or health concerns

I had CBT via a pain clinic but things got progressively worse. The CBT was of no help because it can not mend discs. I was, I admit, by this time feeling a tad suicidal because nobody would listen to me or believe that things were as bad as they were.

In 2001 I called an ambulance and went to the emergency department. The doctor was fine until he consulted my notes and saw I had an ME/CFS diagnosis. I was given morphine and they wanted to send me home.

It was only by refusing to leave that I gained admission to the hospital where a further scan was undertaken and it was found that a piece of disc had got in to my spinal canal and was pressing on my spinal cord. The next day I was in surgery and told that I would have been paralysed for life without it.

I would like you to reflect on how much worse the situation might have been if I had also been labelled as having SSD and on what happens when the SSD label is wrongly applied.

If someone is very ill and in pain is it not normal to feel distressed? How much distress is too much? Who decides what the right amount of distress for any given situation is?

What does ‘disproportionate’ mean in such a situation?

Is feeling anxious about such things not simply a normal and sane reaction to such circumstances?

And as for ‘excessive time and energy’ – well being bedridden and unable to move for whatever reason makes it a little hard to think of much else for much of the time.

To take such a lack of understanding of subjective experience of severe physical symptoms and construct a spurious and vague illness category from them is not only philosophically flawed it is dangerous to those who may be labelled in such a way.

This definition is far too vague and leaves far too much room for definitional ‘creep’, misinterpretation, misuse and even abuse.

It could certainly lead to possible missed diagnosis should a patient be placed in the SSD group and then continually disbelieved because of the label and left with no hope of getting to the bottom of the problem. To leave people without hope can only be called cruel

I am concerned that many illnesses such as ME/CFS, fibromyalgia and pain syndromes, and back problems which are often hard to diagnose and treat and can be a considerable burden to those who have to live with them will get drawn into the SSD basket and that, once there, patients will lose all hope of receiving any appropriate bio-medical treatment.

I am sure you are aware that medicine does move forward and that many illnesses once defined as psychiatric or psychological or simply beyond the reach of scientific clarity are now no longer considered ‘medically unexplained’. Just because there is currently no ‘medical’ explanation for a specific symptom and no understanding of how somebody might experience that symptom does not automatically render it a problem for psychology or psychiatry.

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