BBC Radio 4: Rewriting The Psychiatrist’s Bible Tuesday 4 August

Update:  Available via BBC iPlayer until

8:42pm Tuesday 11th August 2009

Rewriting The Psychiatrist’s Bible

Tuesday 4 August

8.00-8.40pm BBC Radio 4  |  Sky 0104  |  Freeview 704

Matthew Hill explores the ties between psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry, in Rewriting The Psychiatrist’s Bible.

The Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) is currently being revised. It has a huge influence, not only in the United States where it is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), but globally. In Britain, most psychiatrists would not get their work published if they did not follow the DSM diagnostic guidelines.

Panellists are selected by the APA. Its critics say the manual provides an invaluable service for the drug industry by defining new conditions for which new drugs can be marketed. Previous editions have been heavily criticised for a lack of transparency between the panel members and pharmaceutical companies. But the last edition was published in the Nineties and the APA says that things have changed since then and that this time it will be different. Members of the panel have to declare their interests and there is a limit to the amount they can earn from outside interests.

Also under review is the “Chinese Menu” aspect of its diagnostic criteria and the sheer number of conditions it includes. Many British psychiatrists are concerned about the prospect of bipolar disease in children being added to the next edition – not least because the drugs used to treat the disorder have serious side effects.

For the fifth edition, new conditions under consideration include shopping addiction, internet addiction and sex addiction.

Rewriting The Psychiatrist’s Bible investigates whether the APA’s new transparency policy goes far enough and whether real conditions are being medicalised or just traits of human personality.

Presenter/Matthew Hill, Producer/Geraldine Fitzgerald

BBC Radio 4 Publicity

Repeated Sunday 9 August 5.00pm and should also be available on R4 iPlayer