The Pros and Cons of DSM Checklist
British journalist Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness gives the legal and mental health professional an overview of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM has greatly impacted the practice of psychiatry over the past fifty years. It is an important manual which categorizes mental disorders world-wide. It lists every known mental disorder, their symptoms and the checklists for determining if a person suffers from a particular disorder. Recently, controversy about the precision of these diagnoses has developed. When the DSM converted to a checklist approach of diagnoses, many asked what was gained and what was lost? While being a good source for helping people label mental disorders, DSM checklists have many disadvantages which can lead to misdiagnoses and over medication.
One of the biggest advantages of DSM is having a uniform definition of what constitute a mental disorder. Daniel Greenfield in his The Psychopath Test Review states “[The DSM] rating instrument is likely the future litmus paper test to decide who is a psychopath and who is not.” By using DSM manuals to make a diagnosis, healthcare professionals are able to maintain some form of consistency in developing a treatment plan. Medical professionals accept a patient’s diagnosis as valid and proceed accordingly with treatment, including medications. While it is possible for one professional to make a different diagnosis than another, the DSM reduces the risk of extremely opposing diagnoses.
In addition, the DSM guides research in the mental health field. Since many disorders have such widely varying symptoms, the diagnostic checklists help ensure that different groups of researchers are actually studying the same disorder. When using this methodology, Trull and Prinstein in their Clinical Psychology refer to “researchers often use diagnostic terms to define experimental groups… [The use of]...