APA closes third and final comment period: fails to publish field trial results

APA closes third and final comment period: fails to publish field trial results

Post #184 Shortlink: http://wp.me/pKrrB-2gs

So that’s it.

The third and final review of draft proposals for DSM-5 categories and criteria wrapped up last night.

APA closed the DSM-5 Development site for feedback around midnight without publishing its promised report on the DSM-5 field trial results.

Stakeholders have been obliged to submit feedback without the benefit of scrutinizing reliability data or any other information about the field trials APA had intended/may still intend/does not intend publishing.

James H. Scully, Jr., M.D., American Psychiatric Association CEO and Medical Director, blogs at Huffington Post.

I’ve asked Dr Scully why the report has been withheld; whether the Task Force still intends to publish field trial data and when that report might be anticipated.

If APA is so confidence about its field trial results, why the reluctance to place this data in the public domain?

In his Huff Po commentary of May 31, Dr Scully claimed:

“…DSM-5, unlike DSM-IV, invited comments from the world, and the work groups and task force considered every one of the more than 25,000 comments received and conducted further research where indicated.”

Following the first posting of draft proposals, out on review for ten weeks in spring 2010, APA reported receiving around 8,600 submissions; for the second review, around 2,120. I’m curious about this figure of “25,000 comments.”

I’ve asked Dr Scully, will he account for that figure of a total of 25,000 comments so far? I’ll update if Dr Scully responds.

According to Task Force Vice-Chair, Darrel Regier, M.D., the specific diagnostic categories that received the most comments during the second public review and feedback exercise had been the sexual and gender identity disorders, followed closely by somatic symptom disorders and anxiety disorders.

Following closure of the two previous public reviews, APA issued statements and articles. I will update with any statements that are released.


What now?

Content on the DSM-5 Development site (proposals for changes to categories, criteria, rationales, severity specifiers etc) is now frozen.

The site will not be updated to reflect any revisions and edits made between June 15 and submission of final texts, later this year, for approval by APA Board of Trustees.

The remainder of the development process is set out on the Home Page under “Next Steps” and in the APA Board Materials Packet – December 10-11, 2011. This document sets out the DSM-5 Development program from December 2011 until May 2013:

Open here: Item 11.A – DSM Task Force Report

According to APA’s newly published and highly restrictive DSM-5 Permissions Policy – following closure of this third and final public review and comment period, content of DSM-5 will be under strict embargo until the manual is published.

Final text is expected to be presented to APPI, the APA’s publishing arm, by December 31 for May 2013 publication.

I shall continue to update this site with any developments and with media coverage and commentary.


DSM-5 Round up

At DSM 5 in Distress, Allen Frances challenges “APA Newspeak”:

DSM5 in Distress
The DSM’s impact on mental health practice and research.

Top 10 Indicators Of DSM-5 Openness
Challenging APA newspeak.

Allen Frances, M.D. | June 15, 2012

In ‘1984’, George Orwell introduced the term ‘Newspeak’ – the abuse of language by totalitarian bureaucracies to create an upside down, looking glass world of misinformation. He was probably inspired by ‘Pravda,’ the Soviet Union’s propaganda paper that literally means ‘truth’ in Russian but was famous for publishing everything but.

This brings us to the American Psychiatric Association. Its medical director recently justified the astounding $25 million APA has already spent on DSM 5 (5 times the cost of DSM IV) with a curious claim- DSM 5 was so exorbitantly expensive because it was so unprecedentedly open. This classic Newspeak kills two truth birds with one stone — DSM 5 didn’t waste a huge amount of money and DSM 5 didn’t fail because it was a closed shop. The futile hope is that black will become white if only you say it enough times.

In fact, it is very cheap to run an open process — and very expensive to run a PR disinformation campaign. It cost me nothing but an hour’s time to write this blog. How much, I wonder, will it cost APA to pay off GYMR (its high powered public relations producer of newspeak pravda) to defend its indefensible claims that DSM 5 is an open process and that it can meet its unrealistic timetable with a reliable manual?

Here is a top 10 list of great moments in the history of APA ‘openness’.

1) APA forces work group members to sign confidentiality agreements to protect DSM 5 ‘intellectual property’.

2) DSM 5 does a confidential and super-secret ‘scientific’ review of itself- real science is never secret.

3) APA rebuffs calls from 51 mental health associations for an open and independent scientific review.

4) APA’s legal office tries to stifle criticism and censor the internet using inappropriate and bullying threats of trademark litigation.

5) APA plans to steeply jack up licensing costs for use of DSM criteria sets in order to recoup its unaccountably huge investment on its ‘intellectual property’.

6) DSM 5 only reluctantly engages on the issues and instead stonewalls criticism with offensive and defensive tactics.

7) The original DSM 5 plan for field trials included no prior public viewing of criteria sets and no period for public comment. These are added only under heavy outside pressure.

8) DSM 5 publishes no aggregations of key areas of concern identified during public reviews; doesn’t respond publicly to them and there is no indication that public input has had any impact whatever on DSM 5.

9) The APA ‘charitable’ foundation (meant to provide open public education) is named by a watchdog group as the 7th worst charity in all of the US.

10) APA promises to post a complete set of DSM 5 reliability data in time to allow comments during the final period of public review- but fails to do so.

And this is just a taster. At least a dozen reporters have spontaneously mentioned to me that never in their careers have they encountered anything so byzantine as the APA press office. And dozens of APA members have emailed their frustration at not being able to get a straight (or any) answer from a staff whose salaries are paid by their membership dues.

It requires lots of time, money, and brain power to create ‘pravda.’ Perhaps this explains why everything connected with DSM 5 is always so late and so expensive and why a high flying hired gun like GYMR is needed to run its interference. The real truth is fast, cheap, and very simple to explain.

Additional research is available at Suzy Chapman’s website. She monitors DSM-5 development at https://dxrevisionwatch.wordpress.com


On June 13, the American Counseling Association, representing 50,000 US counselors, published its submission to DSM-5:

ACA provides final comments on the DSM-5

ACA President Don W. Locke has sent the American Psychiatric Association a letter providing final comments for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Based on comments from ACA members and the ACA DSM Task Force, the letter acknowledges useful changes that had been made to previous drafts of the DSM-5: the development of the Cultural Formulation Outline, reversing the pathologizing of normal bereavement, and limiting the expansion of personality disorder types. ACA also calls for addressing the one-dimensional nature of the new Substance Use Disorder category and rejects the proposed dimensional assessments. Click here to view letter.

This is the third letter ACA has sent to the American Psychiatric Association providing feedback for the DSM-5. Click the links below to read the previous letters and a response from APA:


The DSM-5 Open Letter Committee of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association is publishing its response to the third draft :

To the DSM-5 Task Force and the American Psychiatric Association

As you know, the Open Letter Committee of the Society for Humanistic Psychology and the Coalition for DSM-5 Reform have been following the development of DSM-5 closely.

We appreciate the opportunity for public commentary on the most recent version of the DSM-5 draft proposals. We intend to submit this brief letter via the dsm5.org feedback portal and to post it for public viewing on our website at http://dsm5-reform.com/

Since its posting in October 2011, the Open Letter to the DSM-5, which was written in response to the second version of the draft proposals, has garnered support from almost 50 mental health organizations and over 13,500 individual mental health professionals and others.

Our three primary concerns in the letter were as follows: the DSM-5 proposals appear to lower diagnostic thresholds, expanding the purview of mental disorder to include normative reactions to life events; some new proposals (e.g., “Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder” and “Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome”) seem to lack the empirical grounding necessary for inclusion in a scientific taxonomy; newly proposed disorders are particularly likely to be diagnosed in vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly, for whom the over-prescription of powerful psychiatric drugs is already a growing nationwide problem; and the increased emphasis on medico-biological theories for mental disorder despite the fact that recent research strongly points to multifactorial etiologies.

We appreciate some of the changes made in this third version of the draft proposals, in particular the relegation of Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome and Mixed Anxiety-Depression to the Appendix for further research. We believe these disorders had insufficient empirical backing for inclusion in the manual itself. In addition, given the continuing elusiveness of biomarkers, we are relieved to find that you have proposed a modified definition of mental disorder that does not include the phrase “underlying psychobiological dysfunction.”

Despite these positive changes, we remain concerned about a number of the DSM-5 proposals, as well as the apparent setbacks in the development process.

Our continuing concerns are:

The proposal to include new disorders with relatively little empirical support and/or research literature that is relatively recent (e.g., Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder)

The lowering of diagnostic thresholds, which may result in diagnostic expansion and various iatrogenic hazards, such as inappropriate treatment and stigmatization of normative life processes. Examples include the newly proposed Minor Neurocognitive Disorder, as well as proposed changes to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Pedophilia, and the new behavioral addictions.

The perplexing Personality Disorders overhaul, which is an unnecessarily complex and idiosyncratic system that is likely to have little clinical utility in everyday practice.

The development of novel scales (e.g., severity scales) with little psychometric testing rather than utilizing established standards.

In addition, we are increasingly concerned about several aspects of the development process. These are:

Continuing delays, particularly in the drafting and field testing of the proposals.

The substandard results of the first set of field trials, which revealed kappas below accepted reliability standards.

The cancelation of the second set of field trials.

The lack of formal forensic review.

Ad hominem responses to critics.

The hiring of a PR firm to influence the interpretation and dissemination of information about DSM-5, which is not standard scientific practice.

We understand that there have been recent attempts to locate a “middle ground” between the DSM-5 proposals and DSM-5 criticism. We believe that, given the extremity and idiosyncrasy of some of the proposed changes to the manual, this claim of a “middle ground” is more rhetorical and polemic than empirical or measured. A true middle ground, we believe, would draw on medical ethics and scientific standards to revise the proposals in a careful way that prioritizes patient safety, especially protection against unnecessary treatment, above institutional needs.

Therefore, we would like to reiterate our call for an independent scientific review of the manual by professionals whose relationship to the DSM-5 Task Force and/or American Psychiatric Association does not constitute a conflict of interest.

As the deadline for the future manual approaches, we urge the DSM-5 Task Force and all concerned mental health professionals to examine the proposed manual with scientific and expert scrutiny.

It is not only our professional standards, but also –and most importantly– patient care that is at stake. We thank you for your time and serious consideration of our concerns, and we hope that you will continue to engage in dialogue with those calling for reform of DSM-5.


The DSM-5 Open Letter Committee of the Society for Humanistic Society, Division 32 of the American Psychological Association


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