The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a publication of the American Psychiatric Association (Maddux & Winstead, 2012). DSM gives standard criteria and uniform language for the categorization of mental disorders. This tool guides researchers, clinicians, pharmaceutical firms, health insurance companies, legal entities, policy makers and other entities such as the World Health Organization during the evaluation of mental disorders (Maddux & Winstead, 2012). The latest version of DSM was published in May 2013, and it is the fifth edition. DSM was engineered in 1952 and has had many revisions. It has necessitated the inclusion of many mental disorders, as well as, exclusion of those that were found not to be mental disorders.
DSM-IV-TR, coined in 2000, is organized into a five-part axial system. The first and second axes covered clinical disorders and intellectual and personality disorders respectively (Maddux & Winstead, 2012). The other axes comprised of childhood, environmental, psychosocial, environmental, and medical factors that are useful in healthcare assessments (Maddux & Winstead, 2012). The latest version of this tool is the DSM-5. The current version has notable strengths. First, it has not only revised diagnoses, but also broadened definitions, as well as, narrowed definitions. Secondly, there is clarity with respect to revision numbers following the discontinuation of Roman numerals. In this version, there is no assumption, but absolute boundaries in each category of mental disorders. Non-criterion and low grade symptoms are not given importance. However, qualifiers are employed, for instance, severe, moderate or mild.
Although this tool is useful, it has some weaknesses. It fails to explain the causative basis of disorders. It has been criticized due to its lack of pathophysiological understanding of psychiatric disorders. DSM-IV-TR relies on symptoms but does not account for the etiology of mental disorders.
Maddux, J. E., and Winstead, B.A. (2012). Psychopathology: Foundations for a Contemporary Understanding. London: Routledge.