Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

DSM, Overview

  • Michelle N. Lafrance
  • Suzanne McKenzie-Mohr
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_375


Efforts to categorize and describe “madness” date back to ancient Greece; however, interest in psychiatric categorization has intensified since the turn of the twentieth century (Kirk & Kutchins, 1992). One marked event in this history was the release of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) third revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III) in 1980. This manual and its successive revisions have been based on a biomedical formulation of “mental disorders,” positioning them as equivalent to medical conditions (Kleinman, 1988; Wilson, 1993). This approach to understanding and categorizing distress dominates mental health practice and has infiltrated popular discourse. Despite its dominance, the DSM has been subject to extensive critique, charged with pathologizing everyday experiences, medicalizing distress, and acting as a tool for social control and a means of maintaining professional and corporate interests.


The DSM is one of the dominant...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologySt. Thomas UniversityFrederictonCanada
  2. 2.School of Social WorkSt. Thomas UniversityFrederictonCanada