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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2019 Sep;207(9):778-784. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001063.

The Aspirations for a Paradigm Shift in DSM-5: An Oral History.

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Department of Psychology, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, Alabama.
Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland.
Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics.
Departments of Psychiatry.
Human Genetics, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.


The initial plans for the DSM-5 revision envisioned a paradigm shift away from traditional diagnostic categories. However, plans for a major move from descriptive to etiologic diagnoses were quickly abandoned as infeasible. Support was much broader for adding dimensional/spectrum constructs to the categorical diagnoses, although this was interpreted in various ways. Delegation of substantial autonomy to work groups with modest central coordination was seen as problematic by some work groups and positively by others. Controversies emerged around the standards for diagnostic change, and the degree to which the same standards should be used across diagnostic groups. The Summit Group was given the final task of trying to forge a consensus among the various review groups. We conclude with thoughts about the difficulty of trying to revise an entire manual all at once and the desirability of developing clear rules for change at the outset of such a diagnostic project.

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