Next week, on June 4–5, 2013, I will be speaking at the DSM-5 extravaganza taking place at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. There is a 2-day international conference titled: DSM-5 and the Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis: Where is the roadmap taking us?, as well as a Maudsley Debate (which will be podcast) on “Enabling or Labelling?” (This House believes that psychiatric diagnosis has advanced the care of people with mental health problems.) Meanwhile, outside the Institute of Psychiatry, protestors from SOAP (Speak Out Against Psychiatry) will be gathering at the time of the DSM5 conference, since they argue that “the DSM-5 makes it easier for normal human experiences to be labeled as mental illness”.
I am one of the conference speakers (my talk is titled: “‘Dissecting diagnosis’ (as a historian and a patient)”), and am also one of the opposers – together with Dr Pat Bracken (co-author of Post-Psychiatry: Mental Health in a Post-Modern World) of the motion in the Maudsley Debate.
In both my conference presentation and in my opposition to the motion of the debate, I will be attempting critically to analyse whose voices and which arguments have been marginalized or occluded in the fraught and crowded media space that has dominated discussions of the DSM5. There has, indeed, been an extraordinary outpouring of both discourse and affect. Indeed, I have been intrigued for many weeks by trying to determine what the varied ‘objects’ of such discourse and affect are. The thing (if one can call it that) that is the “DSM5” – and which is being critiqued, haggled over, defended and torn apart – comprises, I suggest, a complex assemblage – one whose contours I have been struggling to delineate. (Indeed, part of me at this point wishes I could stop reading and/or listening to anything more about the DSM for a good few months, so fractious have the debates become.)
But I am struggling on. One of my particular preoccupations is with how the voices of those who have been diagnosed through the DSM (or through other systems of psychiatric classification) are often marginalized in these debates. If I look at the programme for the Institute of Psychiatry conference, it appears – though one cannot be sure – that I am the only speaker to be offering the perspective of one who has lived in and through the practices of psychiatric diagnosis (though Prof Ilina Singh will be presenting her work on young people’s experiences of ADHD diagnosis [see The Voices Project]). I am also intrigued by how the Maudsley Debate has been structured – in which two very prominent and senior male psychiatrists and professors (Prof Anthony David and Prof Norman Sartorius) have been invited to support the motion, while two ‘Drs’ (Pat Bracken and I) have been invited to oppose.
At this point, I am particularly keen to know from people who have received psychiatric diagnoses if there are particular arguments, ideas, and formulations regarding DSM5 and/or psychiatric diagnosis that I should endeavor to include in the paper and/or debate. Which are the points that keep on getting lost in the flurry of articles and interviews and talking heads? Which of them particularly need to be heard in the lecture hall of the Institute of Psychiatry?
I would love to hear from you (and others who are invested in debates over the DSM5)! (Of course, if I use any of your thoughts or ideas in my presentations, I will acknowledge you in a way that you choose).