The Making of DSM-III: A Diagnostic Manual's Conquest of American Psychiatry

ISBN : 9780195382235

Hannah Decker
466 Pages
155 x 232 mm
Pub date
Jul 2013
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In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided to publish a revised edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). There was great hope that a new manual would display psychiatry as a scientific field and aid in combating the attacks of an aggressive anti-psychiatry movement that had persisted for more than a decade. The Making of DSM-III is a book about the manual that resulted in 1980-DSM-III-a far-reaching revisionist work that created a revolution in American psychiatry. Its development precipitated a historic clash between the DSM-III Task Force - a group of descriptive, empirically oriented psychiatrists and psychologists - and the psychoanalysts the Task Force was determined to dethrone from their dominance in American psychiatry. DSM-III also inaugurated an era in which it and the diagnostic manuals that followed played enormous roles in the daily lives of persons and organizations all over the world, for the DSMs have been translated into many languages. The radical revision process was led by the psychiatrist Robert L. Spitzer, a many-talented man of great determination, energy, and tactical skills, arguably the most influential psychiatrist of the second half of the 20th Century. Spitzer created as major a change in descriptive psychiatry and classification as had the renowned German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, almost a century earlier. Kraepelin had been the epochal delineator of dementia praecox from manic-depressive illness, the forerunners of modern schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In her book, Hannah Decker portrays the many internal and external battles that roiled the creation of DSM-III and analyzes both its positive achievements and significant drawbacks. She also astutely explores the deleterious effects of the violent swings in scientific orientation that have dominated psychiatry over the past 200 years and are still alive today. Decker has written a revealing and exciting book that is based on archival sources never before used as well as extensive interviews with the psychiatrists and psychologists who have brought into being the psychiatry we know today.


Section I: The History
1. A Pivotal Three Decades: American Psychiatry After World War II
Chronicle I: "Weller Than Well"
Chronicle II: "Psychiatry Kills"
Chronicle III: "Pseudopatients" and "Sexual Deviations"
2. Emil Kraepelin: Birth of Modern Descriptive Psychiatry
3. Kraepelin's Progeny: The "Neo-Kraepelinians"
Section II: The People
4. Robert L. Spitzer, Psychiatric Revolutionary
5. The DSM-III Task Force and Psychiatric Empiricism
Section III: The Making
6. A Brief History of Modern Classification and Problems with Reliability in
7. The Revolution Begins, 1973-1976
8. A Snapshot in Time: DSM-III in Midstream, 1976
9. The Eruption of Discord Following the Midstream Conference
10. Clinicians Vs. Researchers again and New Antagonisms Over Sexuality
11. The Psychoanalytic Awakening to DSM-III
12. The Field Trials and Yet More Controversies
13. The Final Weeks
About the Author

About the author: 

Hannah S. Decker is a cultural historian of psychiatry and Professor of History at the University of Houston. She is also Adjunct Professor in Medical History in the Menninger Dept. of Psychiatry at the Baylor College of Medicine and an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies (Houston). Her publications include Freud in Germany: Revolution and Reaction in Science, 1893-1907 and Freud, Dora, and Vienna 1900. In 2007 she received the Carlson Award from the Cornell University Medical College for extraordinary contributions to the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis. She is married and has two grown children.

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