Thursday, May 9, 2013

NIMH Won't Follow Psychiatry 'Bible' Anymore

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—slated for release this month—has lost a major customer before even going to print. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), declared last week on his blog that the institution will no longer use the manual to guide its research. 

NIMH Won't Follow Psychiatry 'Bible' Anymore

on 6 May 2013, 5:10 PM | 7 Comments
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—slated for release this month—has lost a major customer before even going to print. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), declared last week on his blog that the institution will no longer use the manual to guide its research. Instead, NIMH is working on a long-term plan to develop new diagnostic criteria and treatments based on genetic, physiologic, and cognitive data rather than symptoms alone.
Insel's pronouncement is the most recent hit in a long barrage of criticism that has rained down upon the latest DSM revision process since it began over a decade ago. "While DSM has been described as a 'Bible' for the field," he wrote, "it is, at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each." Although the manual's strength has been to standardize these labels, he wrote, "[t]he weakness is its lack of validity," and "[p]atients with mental disorders deserve better."
Although Insel's blog was reported as a "bombshell," and "potentially seismic," NIMH's decision to scrap theDSM criteria has been public for several years, says Bruce Cuthbert, director of NIMH's Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development. In 2010, the agency began to steer researchers away from the traditional categories of DSM by posting new guidance for grant proposals in five broad areas. Rather than grouping disorders such as schizophrenia and depression by symptom, the new categories focus on basic neural circuits and cognitive functions, such as those for reward, arousal, and attachment.

Helena Kraemer, a biostatistician at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who was responsible for field trials of diagnostic categories proposed for DSM-5, says that Insel is right that the NIMH's new program, called Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) is "the direction we have to go." However, she says, "he's wrong in saying thatDSM-5 is to be set aside." When it comes to validity, there now is no gold standard, she says. "The DSM is a series of successive approximations." Kraemer's vision is that future versions of the manual will not have to wait 10 to 15 years for revision, but incorporate new scientific data from RDoC as it emerges. She says that a meeting is scheduled in June to discuss the possibility of converting the DSM into an electronic document that could incorporate those changes. "Everybody I've talked to about it thinks that's a good idea."
Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and former president of the American Psychological Association (APA), isn't convinced that the whole process doesn't need to start from scratch, however. The measures of agreement between experts for several of the disorders in the new DSM-5were "terrible," he says. "What it suggests is that we need to go back to the drawing board." In 2011, Farley and colleagues circulated a petition for APA to submit the new revisions to independent review. Although 14,000 professionals and more than 50 organizations signed on, he says, "Nothing happened. We got a 'Thanks, but no thanks' letter back."
Both RDoC and DSM are necessary, says William Carpenter, a psychiatrist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Carpenter chairs the psychosis working group for the new DSM-5 manual and is one of three external advisers to RDoC. On a practical level, researchers and physicians need DSM to help characterize and treat patients in the field, he says. "If you don't, you just have 'Mental health I, II, III, IV and V.' "
On the other hand, Carpenter says, drug development for psychiatric disorders "has been stalemated for decades" due to our lack of understanding of the biological roots of psychiatric disease. "What I would hope for our field, is that clinically we get into the habit of deconstructing these syndromes into the specific pathologies that the patients have," such as hallucinations and impaired emotional processing. Once we understand the neural circuitry and neurobiology that cause such symptoms, he adds, "hopefully this will help drag drug companies into trying to make novel discoveries, instead of me-too drugs that they've lived off of for all these years."
Implementing RDoC will present some practical challenges, Carpenter acknowledges. "This does shift the paradigm." Rather than excluding all study subjects who do not fit a DSM diagnosis, such as major depression, for example, the new approach might include a range of participants with different diagnoses who all demonstrate anhedonia, the impaired ability to experience pleasure, and might look for underlying brain abnormalities that they share in common. "I bet that the rough spots are overcome pretty quickly," Carpenter says, "but of course we have to see how well that actually works out."
Cuthbert emphasizes that the new system is a framework for research, not a diagnostic manual, and that it has not yet been tested. "It's a platform to get people moving in the right direction," he says. In the meantime, theDSM "has been and continues to be very useful in psychiatry," he says. For the sake of patients, he says, "it's important to communicate that we do have good treatments for mental disorders."

5.9.13: Psychiatry’s Guide Is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say - 5/7/2013 - By PAM BELLUCK and BENEDICT CAREY - NYT

David Kupfer, M.D., Responds to Criticism of DSM-5 by NIMH Director - 5/6/2013


May 6, 2013
Psychiatry’s Guide Is Out of Touch With Science, Experts Say
Just weeks before the long-awaited publication of a new edition of the so-called bible of mental disorders, the federal government’s most prominent psychiatric expert has said the book suffers from a scientific “lack of validity.”

The expert, Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in an interview Monday that his goal was to reshape the direction of psychiatric research to focus on biology, genetics and neuroscience so that scientists can define disorders by their causes, rather than their symptoms.

While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., is the best tool now available for clinicians treating patients and should not be tossed out, he said, it does not reflect the complexity of many disorders, and its way of categorizing mental illnesses should not guide research.

“As long as the research community takes the D.S.M. to be a bible, we’ll never make progress,” Dr. Insel said, adding, “People think that everything has to match D.S.M. criteria, but you know what? Biology never read that book.”

The revision, known as the D.S.M.-5, is the first major reissue since 1994. It has stirred unprecedented questioning from the public, patient groups and, most fundamentally, senior figures in psychiatry who have challenged not only decisions about specific diagnoses but the scientific basis of the entire enterprise. Basic research into the biology of mental disorders and treatment has stalled, they say, confounded by the labyrinth of the brain.

Decades of spending on neuroscience have taught scientists mostly what they do not know, undermining some of their most elemental assumptions. Genetic glitches that appear to increase the risk of schizophrenia in one person may predispose others to autism-like symptoms, or bipolar disorder. The mechanisms of the field’s most commonly used drugs — antidepressants like Prozac, and antipsychosis medications like Zyprexa — have revealed nothing about the causes of those disorders. And major drugmakers have scaled back psychiatric drug development, having virtually no new biological “targets” to shoot for.

Dr. Insel is one of a growing number of scientists who think that the field needs an entirely new paradigm for understanding mental disorders, though neither he nor anyone else knows exactly what it will look like.

Even the chairman of the task force making revisions to the D.S.M., Dr. David J. Kupfer, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, said the new manual was faced with doing the best it could with the scientific evidence available.

“The problem that we’ve had in dealing with the data that we’ve had over the five to 10 years since we began the revision process of D.S.M.-5 is a failure of our neuroscience and biology to give us the level of diagnostic criteria, a level of sensitivity and specificity that we would be able to introduce into the diagnostic manual,” Dr. Kupfer said.

The creators of the D.S.M. in the 1960s and ’70s “were real heroes at the time,” said Dr. Steven E. Hyman, a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at the Broad Institute and a former director at the National Institute of Mental Health. “They chose a model in which all psychiatric illnesses were represented as categories discontinuous with ‘normal.’ But this is totally wrong in a way they couldn’t have imagined. So in fact what they produced was an absolute scientific nightmare. Many people who get one diagnosis get five diagnoses, but they don’t have five diseases — they have one underlying condition.”

Dr. Hyman, Dr. Insel and other experts said they hoped that the science of psychiatry would follow the direction of cancer research, which is moving from classifying tumors by where they occur in the body to characterizing them by their genetic and molecular signatures.

About two years ago, to spur a move in that direction, Dr. Insel started a federal project called Research Domain Criteria, or RDoC, which he highlighted in a blog post last week. Dr. Insel said in the blog that the National Institute of Mental Health would be “reorienting its research away from D.S.M. categories” because “patients with mental disorders deserve better.” His commentary has created ripples throughout the mental health community.

Dr. Insel said in the interview that his motivation was not to disparage the D.S.M. as a clinical tool, but to encourage researchers and especially outside reviewers who screen proposals for financing from his agency to disregard its categories and investigate the biological underpinnings of disorders instead. He said he had heard from scientists whose proposals to study processes common to depression, schizophrenia and psychosis were rejected by grant reviewers because they cut across D.S.M. disease categories.

“They didn’t get it,” Dr. Insel said of the reviewers. “What we’re trying to do with RDoC is say actually this is a fresh way to think about it.” He added that he hoped researchers would also participate in projects funded through the Obama administration’s new brain initiative.

Dr. Michael First, a psychiatry professor at Columbia who edited the last edition of the manual, said, “RDoC is clearly the way of the future,” although it would take years to get results that could apply to patients. In the meantime, he said, “RDoC can’t do what the D.S.M. does. The D.S.M. is what clinicians use. Patients will always come into offices with symptoms.”

For at least a decade, Dr. First and others said, patients will continue to be diagnosed with D.S.M. categories as a guide, and insurance companies will reimburse with such diagnoses in mind.

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the chairman of the psychiatry department at Columbia and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the D.S.M., said that the new edition’s refinements were “based on research in the last 20 years that will improve the utility of this guide for practitioners, and improve, however incrementally, the care patients receive.”

He added: “The last thing we want to do is be defensive or apologetic about the state of our field. But at the same time, we’re not satisfied with it either. There’s nothing we’d like better than to have more scientific progress.”


Disturbing Pablo Neruda’s Rest - 4/10/2013 - By ILAN STAVANS

The DSM-5 and Forensic Psychiatry. - Wortzel HS