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Narcissists May Be Excluded in the DSM-5

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If you have ever had the misfortune of being in a relationship with a narcissist – whether as a co-worker, family member, friend, or significant other – you know that he/she demands a lot of attention and admiration, and can’t stand being ignored.

Classified as a personality disorder (and thus a mental illness) in the current DSM as well as previous editions for many years, one of the committees working on the DSM-5 (due to be released in 2013) believes narcissistic personality disorder should be removed.

In other words, narcissists are at risk of being ignored –something they despise.

So far the new edition of the DSM has removed half of the 10 personality disorders listed in the current edition, due primarily to a new diagnostic approach which focuses on dimensions. Many mental health professionals are not happy about this.

Dr. John Gunderson, a psychiatrist at Harvard University, has reportedly called the personality disorders committee “unenlightened” and their decision to eliminate 5 out of 10 personality disorders “draconian”. He also stated, “They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing”.

A University of Colorado Medical School psychologist, Jonathan Shedler, has also reportedly voiced criticism regarding this committee. He indicated the committee has too many members who are academics rather than practicing clinicians.

Both Dr. Gunderson and Dr. Shedler, along with some of their colleagues, have taken proactive steps to speak out against this issue with a letter to the APA and published editorial, respectively.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the end when the DSM-5 is completed and published. Hopefully the committee will reconsider and not attempt to completely restructure the way personality disorders are classified and diagnosed in the new DSM.

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