APA makes significant updates to new diagnosis manual

Dec 4, 2012

Gender Identity Debate

Rachel Sorrow, at left, a transgender woman, attends a therapy session with Dr. Dan Karasic, a psychiatrist with the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health, at San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, Friday, July 20, 2012. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

The American Psychiatric Association has released approved changes to be published in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Among the most significant modifications to the new edition is the reclassification of the diagnosis for transgender and gender-variant individuals from “Gender Identity Disorder” to the less-stigmatizing “Gender Dysphoria.”

Another big change is the removal of “Asperger’s Disorder” from the DSM-5 – symptoms of Asperger’s will now be included in the newly added “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Other additions and changes to the DSM include binge-eating disorder, adult attention deficit disorder, and major depressive disorder, which has been criticized for medicalizing normal grief and emotional reactions.

Are all of the changes to the new DSM positive ones? Will changing “gender identity disorder” to “gender dysphoria” help transgender individuals receive affirmative treatment? Is including Asperger’s in the autism spectrum the right decision? Which DSM updates are helpful, and which should be reconsidered?


Dr. Allen Frances, MD,  professor emeritus at Duke University and former Chair of its Department of Psychiatry; he was chair of the DSM IV Task Force

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