Hannah S. DeckerThe Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual’s Conquest of American Psychiatry

Oxford University Press, 2013

by Debbie Sorensen on August 23, 2013

Hannah S. Decker

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Like it or not, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) has an enormous influence in deciding what qualifies as a mental health disorder in the United States and beyond. The each revision of the DSM directly influences people’s lives, guides treatment, and has important legal and economic consequences.  In her book, The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual’s Conquest of American Psychiatry (Oxford University Press, 2013), history professor Hannah S. Decker explores the history of the important third revision of DSM. DSM-III was revolutionary at the time because it changed the field of psychiatry from a generally psychoanalytic approach to a more symptom-based, medical model of diagnosis. Through the use of archival sources and interviews with people who were involved in its creation, Dr. Decker paints a picture of the DSM-III in the 1970s. She also explores the landscape of psychiatry before, during, and after the creation of DSM-III. Dr. Decker’s work is important in understanding the context and controversies that surround the DSM, which continue to this day with the recent release of DSM-V. This book will be of interest to people interested in the history of medicine and psychiatry, clinicians and researchers in any mental health discipline, and anyone who is interested in ongoing debates about the field of psychiatry.

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