SUBJECT: Change the DSM to include section on the long-term effects of severe abuse in childhood
FROM: New Mexico
DATE: Feb 8, 2013
Over 30 years ago, in the women's movement of the 1970s, child abuse and molestation came up in their discussion groups. Women's magazines picked it up and it spread to the general public and over the years awareness of it continues to grow.
But if you examine the Diagnostic Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) there is no section on the long-term effects of severe abuse in childhood.
For over 20 years a growing number of professionals—psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, researchers; individuals and whole clinics— have been calling for recognition of how childhood trauma can interfere with a child's normal growth and development—what is now called Developmental Trauma Disorder. The APA has repeatedly turned it down.
The APAs diagnostic manual is used to determine information that's entered into official records, what insurance will pay for and what research is funded.
Meanwhile, adult survivors of severe abuse who seek help through counseling are faced with psychiatric labels that imply the behavioral problems are inborn, unexplainable and irreversible—schizophrenia, bi-polar and behavior disorders. The misdiagnosis and stigma become a further trauma.
I don't want the mental health system to fall apart, but this situation needs to be corrected.
Systemic changes on a societal level are poorly done through the adversarial approach. We need restorative justice to initiate or reestablish healthy relationships in community. This is not about power, authority or face saving. And it's not about blaming. It's about taking the necessary steps and moving forward to do what needs to be done.
If the APA won't do it then the stories of survivors will.