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Volume 29 • Number 1

January 2015



The Moral and Political Implications of the DSM-5

by Daniel D. Moseley

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is often described as "psychiatry’s bible." It articulates the diagnostic and research categories for almost every service sector of the US mental health care system. The publication of the fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) in May 2013 was met with considerable controversy. Old questions about the scientific validity and clinical utility of the psychiatric nosology formulated by the DSM were raised. new questions about the changes from the previous edition (DSM-IV-TR) emerged. Various stakeholders in the DSM-IV-TR framework were outraged by changes proposed by the DSM-5. The old and new questions about the DSM have been central to many discussions in the rapidly growing field of the philosophy of psychiatry. In my own work with the University of north Carolina at Chapel hill (UNC-CH) Philosophy and Psychiatry Research Group (PPRG), I have found that multi-disciplinary discussions in which the participants do not talk past one another is the best way to make progress in addressing the conceptual, epistemological, ethical, legal, and political challenges facing psychiatry and mental health care. In this special issue of Public Affairs Quarterly, the contributors, who bring expertise from various fields within and outside of philosophy, examine some of the central moral and political implications of the DSM-5.

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ISSN: 2152-0542