Good news — you can make a difference!
According to a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association last week, the 8,600 comments submitted in response to the draft of the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (called the “DSM-5″ for short — the 5 stands for the 5th edition of the book) helped spur changes in the draft.
To me, this kind of change demonstrates a fundamental shift in the ability to engage in a meaningful scientific/clinical dialogue. Twenty years ago, there was no easy feedback mechanism for a project of this scale. Back then, significant time and resources would be needed in order to get legitimate and critical feedback (e.g., setting up focus groups in multiple geographic locations, soliciting researchers and clinicians to participate through phone calls and mailings, etc.).
Because of the Internet and the “Web 2.0″ movement — where there is an inherent expectation of the ability to engage in a two-way dialogue about content found online — the DSM-5 has done something never done before. It has encouraged a two-way dialogue with the workgroups responsible for making changes and edits in this important diagnostic manual.
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