The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry's encyclopedia of supposed mental "disorders," is being revised.
Children who throw too many tantrums could be diagnosed with "temper dysregulation with dysphoria." Teenagers who are particularly eccentric might be candidates for treatment for "psychosis risk syndrome." Men who are just way too interested in sex face being labeled as suffering from "hypersexual disorder."
These are among dozens of proposals being unveiled Wednesday by the American Psychiatric Association in the first complete revision since 1994 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or "DSM" -- the massive tome that has served as the bible for modern psychiatry for more than half a century.
"It not only determines how mental disorders are diagnosed, it can impact how people see themselves and how we see each other," said Alan Schatzberg, the association's president. "It influences how research is conducted as well as what is researched. . . . It affects legal matters, industry and government programs."
The proposals will be debated in an intense process over the next two years, with potentially billions of dollars at stake for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, government health plans, doctors, researchers and patient advocacy groups.
But perhaps more important, the outcome will help shape which emotions, behaviors, thoughts and personality traits society considers part of the natural spectrum of the human persona and which are considered pathological, requiring treatment and possibly even criminal punishment.