Lee Beecher, MD
Psychiatrist, Advocate for Patient Care
Chapter 9: Codes and More Codes
"The dictionary definitions of normal are all entirely and beguilingly tautological. To know what is normal you have to know what is abnormal. And guess how abnormal is defined in the dictionaries –
those things that are not normal or regular or natural or typical or usual or conforming to a norm."
– Allan Frances, MD
THE SOMETIMES USEFUL AND OFTEN CONFOUNDING DSM
In the midst of mystery, misunderstanding, and stigma surrounding mental illness, there are several common factors that cannot be ignored. Among these factors are that diagnosis, therapy, and medication cost money. Contributing to the cost of care, a successful therapy for mental illness often involves several professionals practicing in their area of specialty, which costs money. Coordination of care between mental health patients and their physicians is complicated, and, of
course, costs money.
Clear communication with the patient, however, is the caregiver’s primary concern. From its inception, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was, among other things,
intended to be a communication tool to help define the behaviors called mental disorders as observed by professional caregivers.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) markets The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as its proprietary tool of mental illness classifications. The DSM is compatible with the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) through a crosswalk algorithm. The DSM is used by a wide variety of parties for numerous purposes that are sometimes averse to each other.