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Mens Sana Monogr. 2013 Jan;11(1):25-41. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.109299.

Psychopharmacological Practice: The DSM Versus The Brain.

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1
Associate Professor, SUNY Upstate Medical University, 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY, USA. Tele: 315 - 464 - 3100.

Abstract

In 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) system of creating, validating, studying and employing a diagnostic system in clinical psychiatric practice was introduced. There have been several updates and revisions to this manual and, regardless of its a theoretical framework, it actually does have a framework and presupposition. Essentially the DSM dictates that all psychiatric disorders are syndromes, or a collection of symptoms that commonly occur together and impair psychosocial functioning. These syndromes allow for homogenous groups of patients to be studied and psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies to be developed. This editorial will examine the DSM system with regards to its applicability to central nervous system dysfunction where psychiatric disorders are concerned. Specifically, the brain does not follow categorical, or syndromal, constructs. In fact, the psychiatric patient likely inherits several risk genes that promote abnormal proteins along several neuropathways in the brain. These abnormalities create dysfunctional neurocircuits which create individual psychiatric symptoms, but not a categorical syndrome or diagnosis. The concept that the DSM may be excellent for clinical diagnostic purposes, but less correct in its assumptions for a psychopharmacologist's treatment approaches will be discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Diagnostic systems; Neuroimaging; Neuroscience; Psychopharmacology

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