DSM V Preview

Posted by – February 11, 2010

For those of you who are following the DSM revision controversy as it unfolds, here is a recently launched website by the Association for Women in Psychology Committee on Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis, spearheaded by Paula Caplan. It takes on the problems with a number of categories, including Gender Identity Disorder, Parental Alienation Syndrome, and Female Sexual Dysfunction.

Some highlights of the upcoming DSM V:

[1] The Paraphilias Subworkgroup is proposing two broad changes that affect all or several of the paraphilia diagnoses, in addition to various amendments to specific diagnoses. The first broad change follows from our consensus that paraphilias are not ipso facto psychiatric disorders. We are proposing that the DSM-5 make a distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders. A paraphilia by itself would not automatically justify or require psychiatric intervention. A paraphilic disorder is a paraphilia that causes distress or impairment to the individual or harm to others. One would ascertain a paraphilia (according to the nature of the urges, fantasies, or behaviors) but diagnose a paraphilic disorder (on the basis of distress and impairment). In this conception, having a paraphilia would be a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder.

This approach leaves intact the distinction between normative and non-normative sexual behavior, which could be important to researchers, but without automatically labeling non-normative sexual behavior as psychopathological. It also eliminates certain logical absurdities in the DSM-IV-TR. In that version, for example, a man cannot be classified as a transvestite—however much he cross-dresses and however sexually exciting that is to him—unless he is unhappy about this activity or impaired by it. This change in viewpoint would be reflected in the diagnostic criteria sets by the addition of the word “Disorder” to all the paraphilias. Thus, Sexual Sadism would become Sexual Sadism Disorder; Sexual Masochism would become Sexual Masochism Disorder, and so on.

and

Transvestic Disorder
A. Over a period of at least six months, in a male, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, or sexual behaviors involving cross?dressing. [11]
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Specify if: [12]
With Fetishism (Sexually Aroused by Fabrics, Materials, or Garments)
With Autogynephilia (Sexually Aroused by Thought or Image of Self as Female)

and

302.85 Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults
Gender Incongruence (in Adolescents or Adults) [1]
A. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by 2* or more of the following indicators: [2, 3, 4]
1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [13, 16]

2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [17]

3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender

4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

Subtypes
With a disorder of sex development
Without a disorder of sex development
[14, 15, 16, 19]

and

For the adult criteria, we propose, on a preliminary basis, the requirement of only 2 indicators. This is based on a preliminary secondary data analysis of 154 adolescent and adults patients with GID compared to 684 controls (Deogracias et al., 2007; Singh et al., 2010). From a 27-item dimensional measure of gender dysphoria, the Gender Identity/Gender Dysphoria Questionnaire for Adolescents and Adults (GIDYQ), we extracted five items that correspond to the proposed A2-A6 indicators (we could not extract a corresponding item for A1). Each item was rated on a 5-point response scale, ranging from Never to Always, with the past 12 months as the time frame. For the current analysis, we coded a symptom as present if the participant endorsed one of the two most extreme response options (frequently or always) and as absent if the participant endorsed one of the three other options (never, rarely, sometimes). This yielded a true positive rate of 94.2% and a false positive rate of 0.7%. Because the wording of the items on the GIDYQ is not identical to the wording of the proposed indicators, further validational work will be required during field trials.

End notes
1. It is proposed that the name gender identity disorder (GID) be replaced by “Gender Incongruence” (GI) because the latter is a descriptive term that better reflects the core of the problem: an incongruence between, on the one hand, what identity one experiences and/or expresses and, on the other hand, how one is expected to live based on one’s assigned gender (usually at birth) (Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a; Winters, 2005). In a recent survey that we conducted among consumer organizations for transgendered people (Vance et al., in press), many very clearly indicated their rejection of the GID term because, in their view, it contributes to the stigmatization of their condition.

2. In addition to the proposed name change for the diagnosis (see Endnote 1), there are 6 substantive proposed changes to the DSM-IV descriptive and diagnostic material: (a) we have proposed a change in conceptualization of the defining features by emphasizing the phenomenon of “gender incongruence” in contrast to cross-gender identification per se (Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a); (b) we have proposed a merging of the A and B clinical indicator criteria in DSM-IV (see Endnotes 10, 13); (c) for the adolescent/adult criteria, we have proposed a more detailed and specific set of polythetic indicators than was the case in DSM-IV (Cohen-Kettenis & Pfäfflin, 2009; Zucker, 2006); (d) for the child criteria, we have proposed that the A1 indicator be necessary (but not sufficient) for the diagnosis of GI (see Endnote 5); (e) we have proposed that the “distress/impairment” criterion not be a prerequisite for the diagnosis of GI (see Endnote 15); and (f) we have proposed that subtyping by sexual attraction (for adolescents/adults) be eliminated (see Endnote 18) but that subtyping by the presence or absence of a co-occurring disorder of sex development (DSD) be introduced (see Endnote 14). As in DSM-IV, we recommend one overarching diagnosis, GI, with separate, developmentally-appropriate criteria sets for children vs. adolescents/adults. The text material will provide updated information on developmental trajectory data for clients who received the GI diagnosis in childhood vs. adolescence or adulthood.

The term “sex” has been replaced by assigned “gender” in order to make the criteria applicable to individuals with a DSD (Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009b). During the course of physical sex differentiation, some aspects of biological sex (e.g., 46,XY genes) may be incongruent with other aspects (e.g., the external genitalia); thus, using the term “sex” would be confusing. The change also makes it possible for individuals who have successfully transitioned to “lose” the diagnosis after satisfactory treatment. This resolves the problem that, in the DSM-IV-TR, there was a lack of an “exit clause,” meaning that individuals once diagnosed with GID will always be considered to have the diagnosis, regardless of whether they have transitioned and are psychosocially adjusted in the identified gender role (Winters, 2008). The diagnosis will also be applicable to transitioned individuals who have regrets, because they did not feel like the other gender after all. For instance, a natal male living in the female role and having regrets experiences an incongruence between the “newly assigned” female gender and the experienced/expressed (still or again male) gender.

3. It has been recommended by the Workgroup to delete the “perceived cultural advantages” proviso. This was also recommended by the DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders (Bradley et al., 1991). There is no reason to “impute” one causal explanation for GI at the expense of others (Zucker, 1992, 2009).

4. The 6 month duration was introduced to make at least a minimal distinction between very transient and persistent GI. The duration criterion was decided upon by clinical consensus. However, there is no clear empirical literature supporting this particular period (e.g., 3 months vs. 6 months or 6 months vs. 12 months). There was, however, consensus among the group that a lower-bound duration of 6 months would be unlikely to yield false positives.

13. In the DSM-IV, there are two sets of clinical indicators (Criteria A and B). This distinction is not supported by factor analytic studies. The existing studies suggest that the concept of GI is best captured by one underlying dimension (Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Deogracias et al., 2007; Green, 1987; Johnson et al., 2004; Singh et al., 2010).

14. There is considerable evidence individuals with a DSD experience GI and may wish to change from their assigned gender; the percentage of such individuals who experience GI is syndrome-dependent (Cohen-Kettenis, 2005; Dessens, Slijper, & Drop, 2005; Mazur, 2005; Meyer-Bahlburg, 1994, 2005, 2009a, 2009b). From a phenomenologic perspective, DSD individuals with GI have both similarities and differences to individuals with GI with no known DSD. Developmental trajectories also have similarities and differences. The presence of a DSD is suggestive of a specific causal mechanism that may not be present in individuals without a diagnosable DSD.

15. It is our recommendation that the GI diagnosis be given on the basis of the A criterion alone and that distress and/or impairment (the D criterion in DSM-IV) be evaluated separately and independently. This definitional issue remains under discussion in the DSM-V Task Force for all psychiatric disorders and may have to be revisited pending the outcome of that discussion. Although there are studies showing that adolescents and adults with the DSM-IV diagnosis of GID function poorly, this type of impairment is by no means a universal finding. In some studies, for example, adolescents or adults with GID were found to generally function psychologically in the non-clinical range (Cohen-Kettenis & Pfäfflin, 2009; Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a). Moreover, increased psychiatric problems in transsexuals appear to be preceded by increased experiences of stigma (Nuttbrock et al., 2009). Postulating “inherent distress” in case one desires to be rid of body parts that do not fit one’s identity is, in the absence of data, also questionable (Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a).

16. Although the DSM-IV diagnosis of GID encompasses more than transsexualism, it is still often used as an equivalent to transsexualism (Sohn & Bosinski, 2007). For instance, a man can meet the two core criteria if he only believes he has the typical feelings of a woman and does not feel at ease with the male gender role. The same holds for a woman who just frequently passes as a man (e.g., in terms of first name, clothing, and/or haircut) and does not feel comfortable living as a conventional woman. Someone having a GID diagnosis based on these subcriteria clearly differs from a person who identifies completely with the other gender, can only relax when permanently living in the other gender role, has a strong aversion against the sex characteristics of his/her body, and wants to adjust his/her body as much as technically possible in the direction of the desired sex. Those who are distressed by having problems with just one of the two criteria (e.g., feeling uncomfortable living as a conventional man or woman) will have a GIDNOS diagnosis. This is highly confusing for clinicians. It perpetuates the search for the “true transsexual” only, in order to identify the right candidates for hormone and surgical treatment instead of facilitating clinicians to assess the type and severity of any type of GI and offer appropriate treatment. Furthermore, in the DSM-IV, gender identity and gender role were described as a dichotomy (either male or female) rather than a multi-category concept or spectrum (Bockting, 2008; Bornstein, 1994; Ekins & King, 2006; Lev, 2007; Røn, 2002). The current formulation makes more explicit that a conceptualization of GI acknowledging the wide variation of conditions will make it less likely that only one type of treatment is connected to the diagnosis. Taking the above regarding the avoidance of male-female dichotomies into account, in the new formulation, the focus is on the discrepancy between experienced/expressed gender (which can be either male, female, in-between or otherwise) and assigned gender (in most societies male or female) rather than cross-gender identification and same-gender aversion (Cohen-Kettenis & Pfäfflin, 2009).

17. In referring to secondary sex characteristics, anticipation of the development of secondary sex characteristics has been added for young adolescents. Adolescents increasingly show up at gender identity clinics requesting gender reassignment, before the first signs of puberty are visible (Delemarre-van de Waal & Cohen-Kettenis, 2006; Zucker & Cohen-Kettenis, 2008).

18. In contemporary clinical practice, sexual orientation per se plays only a minor role in treatment protocols or decisions. Also, changes as to the preferred gender of sex partner occur during or after treatment (DeCuypere, Janes, & Rubens, 2005; Lawrence, 2005; Schroder & Carroll, 1999). It can be difficult to assess sexual orientation in individuals with a GI diagnosis, as they preoperatively might give incorrect information in order to be approved for hormonal and surgical treatment (Lawrence, 1999). Because sexual orientation subtyping is of interest to researchers in the field, it is recommended that reference to it be addressed in the text, but not as a specifier. It should also be assessed as a dimensional construct.

19. The subworkgroup has had extensive discussion about the placement of GI in the nomenclature for DSM-V, as the meta-structure of the entire manual is under review. The subworkgroup questions the rationale for the current DSM-IV chapter Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, which contains three major classes of diagnoses: sexual dysfunctions, paraphilias, and gender identity disorders (see Meyer-Bahlburg, 2009a). Various alternative options to the current placement are under consideration.

1 Comment on DSM V Preview

  1. avhedge says:

    I have never looked at the DSM, but NPR had a nice piece (either Marketplace or Fresh Air I think) about how Big Pharma uses the DSM to target drugs for newly described conditions or disorders. Kind of interesting to know how a reference book can have a huge impact on a lot of people’s lives.

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