Advances in the History of Psychology has just alerted me to a new programme on NPR Radio about the debates over the ‘in revision’ version of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual that defines mental illness for significant parts of the world.
It covers some of the most contentious potential diagnoses in the to-be-released DSM V and doesn’t have the most balanced discussion in some cases (e.g. the guy claiming that people against the diagnoses of gender identity disorder – transexualism – just ‘see the stigma’ of the condition).
Most interestingly though, it quotes part of the non-disclosure agreement that members of the DSM committee have had to sign, making a legally binding restriction against discussing:
All work product unpublished manuscripts and draft and other prepublication materials, group discussions, internal correspondence, information about the development process and any other written or unwritten information, in any form, that emanates from, or relates to, my work with the APA task force or work group.
Yes, there is a legal restriction banning members from discussing the development of one of the most important documents in medicine.
The DSM committee vice-chair Darrel Regier says this is a good thing because otherwise “it would just be cacophony and mass confusion” – presumably referring to the annoying tendency of public debate to raise points that you hadn’t thought of before.
Diagnoses decided by an unelected committee in secret sessions that are legally prevented from discussing their work. Science marches on.