The DSM-5

Anne Cooke and John McGowan

When?
Wednesday, July 17 2013 at 8:00PM

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Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Anne Cooke and John McGowan

What's the talk about?

A new edition of the ‘dictionary’ of mental illnesses was published this year – the catchily named, DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition). Compared to its predecessors, it classifies many more types of behaviour as ‘mental disorders’. For example, binge eating is now a disease, and you may also be categorised as mentally ill if you spend too long in front of your computer, if you are shy, or if you feel just feel sad. Each edition of the DSM introduces us to new illnesses. The first edition, published in 1952, was 132 pages long. The 1987 edition was 569 pages and you might consider putting on hernia belt before picking up the new edition as it has 1000. Its publication has provoked fierce arguments. Advocates say how important it is that illnesses are identified and treated. Critics claim that that it will lead to millions of us being unnecessarily labelled as sick and put on drugs. Some even believe that many of the conditions are simply inventions dreamed up for the benefit of pharmaceutical giants. Whatever your position it’s clear that the publication of the DSM is an event that will affect all our lives. Anne and John will introduce the main issues, and ask the question, ‘Is life a disease?’

Anne Cooke is a clinical psychologist who has spent many years working in the NHS with people who are diagnosed as mentally ill. She works at Canterbury Christ Church University, training clinical psychologists for the NHS. She is currently editing a second edition of the British Psychological Society’s report ‘Understanding Psychosis’ and is interested in the way that we as a society think about and respond to emotional distress.

John McGowan is also a Clinical Psychologist. Like Anne has followed many years in the NHS by moving to academia and training clinical psychologists. As well as conducting research into self-harm and suicide he is currently editing a new British Psychological Society Report on Depression. He has written for The Guardian, the Health Service Journal and (most significantly) is an occasional columnist for Viva Lewes.

Anne and John both blog regularly at Discursive of Tunbridge Wells. You can also follow them on Twitter (@CCCUAppPsy).