Thursday, January 17, 2013

DSM-5, Somatic Symptom Disorder

From Suzy Chapman for

January 16, 2013

Today, Allen Frances, M.D., publishes a follow-up to our December 8 commentary in which we set out the implications for all chronic illness patient populations of misdiagnosis with "Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD)" or misapplication of an additional diagnosis of "SSD."

In this second of three commentaries, Dr Frances reports on the outcome of his representations to the DSM-5 SSD Work Group, key APA Board of Trustees office holders and DSM-5's Task Force chair and vice-chair.

Dr Frances' first commentary on SSD is approaching 20,000 views and has received over 300 comments on Psychology Today, alone. It is also published at Huffington Post and at Education Update and has been widely circulated on other platforms.

There has been an overwhelming response to our concerns with comments pouring in from patients with diverse chronic illnesses and conditions including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis, Behcet's disease, Endometriosis, Lupus, Hashimotos thyroid disorder, Hughes Syndrome, Pancreatitis and Chronic Lyme disease - comment after comment from patients whose symptoms had been dismissed for years before finally receiving a diagnosis or who are still struggling to obtain a diagnosis, many of whom had been mislabelled with a somatoform disorder.

We've also received many emails from patients and international patient organizations thanking us for exposing the perils of these highly subjective, catch-all criteria.

The texts for DSM-5 are expected to be finalized for the publishers by the end of this month.

I'd like to thank all of you who have left comments to the first commentary and reposted the link. Please also circulate the link for Dr Frances' follow-up commentary, below.

We are particularly keen to reach platforms for patients with common chronic diseases and conditions - cancer, heart disease, diabetes, COPD, MS, RA; also Lyme disease, chemical injury and rare diseases, IBS and Fibromyalgia, as well as our own patient group.


Allen Frances, M.D., was chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and of the department of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC. He is currently professor emeritus at Duke.

Psychology Today

DSM5 in Distress

The DSM's impact on mental health practice and research
by Allen Frances, M.D.

Published on December 16, 2012 by Allen J. Frances, M.D., in DSM5 in Distress

Bad News: DSM 5 Refuses To Correct Somatic Symptom Disorder
Medical Illness Will Be Mislabeled Mental Disorder

"Many of you will have read a previous blog prepared by Suzy Chapman and me that contained alarming information about the new DSM 5 diagnosis 'Somatic Symptom Disorder.'

"SSD is defined so over inclusively by DSM 5 that it will mislabel 1 in 6 people with cancer and heart disease; 1 in 4 with irritable bowel and fibromyalgia; and 1 in 14 who are not even medically ill.

"I hoped to be able to influence the DSM 5 work group to correct this in 2 ways: 1) by suggesting improvements in the wording of the SSD criteria set that would reduce mislabeling; and 2) by letting them know how much opposition they would face from concerned professionals and an outraged public if DSM 5 failed to slam on the brakes while there was still time..."

Read on here:

Further coverage:

Mislabeling Medical Illness As Mental Disorder: Allen J Frances, M.D., December 8, 2012:

Moving in the Wrong Direction: Dr Tiffany Taft, Ph.D., Northwestern University, December 13, 2012:

Proposed DSM-5 Criteria May Unfairly Label Physical Conditions as Psychological Disorders: IBS Impact, December, 2012:

Somatic Symptom Disorder could capture millions more under mental health diagnosis: Suzy Chapman, May 26, 2012:

Suzy Chapman

No comments: