“It is vital for mental health professionals to have some appreciation of the strengths and weakness of the modem DSMs and to appreciate as well that there are many perspectives from which to understand what has been happening with the expansion of the DSMs.” – Arthur Houts
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is a reference used by health care professionals to diagnosis mental illness and narrow treatment options. By having a standardized reference, professionals are able to communicate clearly and concisely the diagnosis of a patient, allowing another professional to quickly understand the major symptoms and characteristics of that illness.
As time has passed and the DSM has evolved, so have the diagnoses and organization, as we are continually uncovering new and better ways of classification of different diagnoses. Just as with any other work, the DSM is not free from outside influence. The zietgeist of the time has influenced the DSM every step of the way: from its first manifestation (DSM-I) to its current version (DSM-IV-TR). The newest version is being compiled by a collaboration of professionals and will no doubt reflect the zeitgeist of our time.
We hope that our site can give you some insight into how and why the DSM has changed over time and in what way the changes reflect the historical period they were made in.