Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)


With the new DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) coming out in 2013, I thought I’d write on a few of the zillion diagnoses out there, ones I’ve posted about in the past. Since this blog goes to various sites, some of you may know more than I (and you can skip everything), if not, the summary may be useful. But first, I’d like to clarify what I think is an important point. Just like with a physical illness, e.g., diabetes, people with an identical mental illness, e.g., bipolar, may seem very different from each other. There are folks living relatively normal lives even with schizophrenia, which is considered the most serious of the mental illnesses. Yes, there are doctors and lawyers with this condition. Of course, there are others who need constant supervision, and many at various places within the two extremes, such as my son.

Without getting too technical, schizophrenia is considered a thought disorder. Symptoms fall into three categories: positive ones are those that are there, but shouldn’t be, e.g. hallucinations and delusions; negative ones are those that are not there but should be, e.g. appropriate emotions; cognitive symptoms involve problems with thinking rationally, e.g. logical connection between sentences.

Depression is a mood disorder. It involves episodes of extreme sadness which last longer than two weeks and interfere with ordinary functioning.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder falls within the anxiety spectrum. The obsessive part is characterized by intrusive thoughts. The compulsive part involves repetitive actions. Many people envision hand washing when they think of OCD. In my case, I had to repeat nonsense words ad nauseam.

Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) involves extreme shifts in mood from depression to mania (abnormally elated mood).

Schizoaffective disorder involves some symptoms of schizophrenia and some of a mood disorder, e.g. depression or mania or a combination of both.

You can, of course, get more information from a psych 101 textbook than the information I’ve provided, but if you’re really interested check out the DSM IV published in 1992 by the American Psychiatric Association. I suggest the library since the book is huge and expensive. It gets bigger with each edition so the fifth should be massive.

Seems like there are so many conditions that everyone is guaranteed to have at least one.


About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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8 Responses to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

  1. Crazy Mermaid says:

    Thank you for the date of the new DSM publication, and thanks for the brief overview.

  2. Tim Lundmark says:

    I think I have commented before. I suffer from both a personality disorder as well as a thought mood disorder. It is so tough to sometimes make it through the day. I am high functioning which basically means I can hide it well. This is exhausting and often adds problems at home. I wish there was a magical cure.

  3. waywardweed says:

    Hi Tom, We have a lot in common. I can hide thing so well that people are surprised when I sometimes end up in a hospital. They’ll say, “I just saw you yesterday and you were fine … ” I also understand what you mean by exhausting, and wish there was a magic pill. I’d swallow the bottle.

  4. Tim Lundmark says:

    I know all to well about the hospital. I have been lucky to stay out for six years. i have needed to go several times, but if I did I would lose my job, so I just fight through it. I think what bothers me the most about my illness is that my kids see me as being sick. I am on many “magical” pills and they have proven to be the best combination.

  5. Nancy says:

    You shouldn’t lose your job over something that is not your fault, but that’s the stigma associated with MI. My best to you and your family. “One day at a time.”

  6. karesaurus says:

    Reply to your comment:
    I did the styling that way because it is a fashion class, and in order to do a picture with any sort of meaning…it has to be “fashionable”. Personally, I don’t think it would be easily confused with dissociative identity disorder…but then again I’m not the “normal” population in regards to knowledge of psychological disorders. My intent was also not to make fun of the disorder- if that’s what you think I was doing. I just love my cats, and if I were delusional about anything it would be them.

    • karesaurus says:

      Also, I understand that as someone who has never been directly involved with these disorders…any “fashion” representation will probably come off as offensive. I don’t mean it that way. Most people aren’t very well educated on mental disorders, so part of the reason for doing my photos is so people will maybe research the disorders and learn more about them.

    • waywardweed says:

      Thank you for replying. I am not an expert on fashion; maybe fashion and serious mental illness are not compatible for a class if the goal is solely to make a “fashionable” statement. I do like cats, however.

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