By Minyanville Staff

For any mental illness or passing mood swing that may trouble a person, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — better known as the DSM — has a label and a code. Recurring bad dreams? That may be a Nightmare Disorder, or 307.47. Narcolepsy uses the same digits in a different order: 347.00. Fancy feather ticklers? That sounds like Fetishism, or 302.81. Then there’s the ultimate catch-all for vague sadness or uneasiness, General Anxiety Disorder, or 300.02. That’s a label almost everyone can lay claim to.

These codes are used by doctors, psychologists, and regulators to maintain a mutual language; it’s a handy shorthand system for bureaucratic purposes. But over the past few decades, the staggering, ever-expanding influence of the ever-expanding DSM, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, has also played a lead role in building wealth and off-label product uses for the major drug manufacturers. In an insightful essay in this week’s New York Review of Books, Marcia Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and former Editor in Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, explains how.

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The Emperor’s New Drugs
Exploding the Antidepressant Myth
by Irving Kirsch Ph.D.

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