The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, usually known as DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is used in many countries and by a variety of disciplines, such as psychologists, educators researchers and neurologists.
It is a manual containing a list of psychiatric disorders, including their diagnostic codes, a set of diagnostic criteria and symptoms, differential diagnosis and other information such as familiar patterns, age and gender specific features, etc. The DSM does not include indications concerning etiology or treatment.
One of its main objectives of this manual is to reach a diagnostic agreement in the field of mental disorders. The DSM facilitates communication among professionals when discussing patients. All the diagnoses in the Manual are described in terms of manifest symptoms, everything in the DSM is empirically proben; this can be an advantage, but it is also a source of criticism from some professionals.
The first publication of the DSM was in 1952, based on an earlier classification adopted by the Bureau of the Census in order to unify statistics. The manual was 130 pages long and contained 106 categories of mental disorder. In 1968 the DSM-II was published, listed 182 disorders, and was 134 pages long. Up to this moment, these manuals reflected the predominant psycho-dynamic psychiatry. But this changed in 1974, when under the direction of chairman Robert Spitzer the Association stated working on the thrid revision. This time, they intended to make the nomenclature consistent with the one published by the World Health Organization, thus, they abandoned the psycho-dynamic view in favor of a biomedical model, which clearly distinguished between the normal and the abnormal. After a long controversy over the inclusion of neurosis in the manual, the DSM-III was finally published in 1980.
In 1987 the DSM-III-R was published (DSM-III Revised): some categories were renamed, reorganized, and significant changes in criteria were made. Controversial diagnoses such as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and Masochistic Personality Disorder were considered and discarded. The DSM-III-R contained 292 diagnoses and was 567 pages long.
Finally in 1994 the DSM-IV was published listing 297 disorders in 886 pages. In order to reach a consensus on the diagnosis, a committee of 27 people was introduced, including 4 psychologists. They were divided into 13 groups, that also included 20 advisers. Each group went through a 3-step process: they reviewed the existing literature of the diagnoses, then requested data from researchers, analyzing every piece of information to determine the changes that needed to be made. The final step consisted on field work, relating their diagnoses to clinical experiences.
A text revision was published in 2000 (DSM-IV-TR) and the fifth edition, the DSM-V is scheduled for publication in 2012.