DSM-5 Finalized: Asperger’s Out, Binge Eating In

After more than a decade of contentious debate, the American Psychiatric Association voted Saturday to finalize the next version of its diagnostic guidebook, often referred to as the “bible” of the mental health field. It’s sure to keep the debate coming.

Among the most notable changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—the fifth version of which will be released in May 2013—is the incorporation of Asperger’s syndrome and autistic disorder into the catch-all category of autism spectrum disorder, a move that was long expected. Also included in this category will be childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder. Previously, these issues were independent diagnoses.

Gaining popular acceptance as a treatable condition in the DSM-5 is binge eating disorder, which previously had been under review because its symptoms sometimes mirror those of mood issues such as depression and anxiety. As with other conditions listed in the DSM, adding binge eating allows mental health professionals to seek insurance reimbursement for a professionally recognized and legitimized issue. Although a diagnosis typically is necessary to receive certain social and educational services, it remains unclear how the DSM-5 will affect access to these resources.

“We developed DSM-5 by utilizing the best experts in the field and extensive reviews of the scientific literature and original research, and we have produced a manual that best represents the current science and will be useful to clinicians and the patients they serve,” APA president Dr. Dilip Jeste said in a statement.

Folding Asperger’s syndrome into autism spectrum disorder has generated controversy in part because autism is generally considered a more serious issue. Children with Asperger’s often lack social skills, but those with autism are sometimes unable to talk or interact at all. Defenders of the move pointed out that some states and school programs do not adequately accommodate people diagnosed with Asperger’s. Linking the issue with autism may change that.

Also of note:

  • The removal of the exception for bereavement in the DSM-5 paves the way for a diagnosis of depression without delay when a person is grieving the death of a loved one. The APA said this change is intended to acknowledge bereavement as a serious psychosocial stressor that can trigger a depressive episode.
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder joins the pages of the DSM. A diagnosis is applicable to children who display “persistent irritability and frequent episodes of behavior outbursts three or more times a week for more than a year,” according to the APA. This change has generated criticism for its broad scope, which some fear could lead to an increase in clinical diagnoses for what many see as “normal” child behavior. Proponents of the change say it will help reduce diagnoses and treatment of bipolar in children, a growing concern.
  • The term “gender identity disorder” will go away, replaced by “gender dysphoria.” Activists had criticized the terminology in the current DSM for being pathologizing and stigmatizing. A diagnosis of gender dysphoria may apply to people who are emotionally distressed about their gender identity.
  • Hoarding, the compulsive collection of possessions that may or may not have monetary value, joins the DSM-5 as a separate condition from obsessive compulsive disorder. Excoriation (skin-picking) also will be incorporated in the new text.
  • The DSM-5 expands on the current edition with regard to posttraumatic stress, with four diagnostic clusters instead of three and an increased focus on symptoms.
  • Substance abuse and substance dependence, separate categories in the current DSM, will be combined into the broader designation of substance use disorder. Criteria for diagnosis were strengthened as well.
  • Dyslexia, which many feared may be eliminated from the DSM, survived and will be included under the categorical umbrella of learning disorders.
  • While the criteria for diagnosis are unchanged, pedophilia will be known as pedophilic disorder in the DSM-5.
  • Designated as requiring further research will be attenuated psychosis syndrome, Internet use gaming disorder, nonsuicidal self-injury, and suicidal behavioral disorder. Categorizing these issues as such makes it unlikely that insurers will reimburse for their treatment.
  • Several proposed issues did not make the cut for inclusion in the text, including hypersexual disorder (sex addiction), anxious depression, parental alienation syndrome, and sensory processing disorder.
  • The DSM-5 will be arranged by relevant disorder rather than in a multiaxial format. Chapters will be positioned such that disorders that are related or similar in symptomology will be near each other.

The last version of the DSM to undergo significant revisions was published in 1994. Certain specifics of the DSM-5 will not be made public until its release, APA leaders said.

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Kevin

    December 3rd, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    When I first read the title of this article, my heart stopped! I thought the DSM-V was throwing out the diagnosis of Asperger’s all together. Glad to see it was doing just what it was supposed to do-get me to read the article! ;0)

  • Valerie

    December 3rd, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Including Asperger’s in the autism spectrum disorder makes a lot of sense. Getting help in school for kids with Asperger’s is critical. If we can include wonderful, concerned teachers in the many hours a child attends school, he or she will be all the better for it. I am excited for our future!

  • Eric

    December 4th, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    I know that there has been a lot of back and forth over the years as the changes have been discussed and implemented, but I have to think that somewhere someone has decided that this really is the ebst way to get the most complete and realistic diagnosis for a patient. I in no way think that there are hidden agendas behind the determinations, and that the mental health community should rally around and celebrate the changes, find the positve and continue their hard work in treating those who so often are ignored and left behind.

  • Wilma

    December 4th, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    The categorization is rather important, some people may say how does classification matter, but let me tel you this is something that can have a bearing on us and those around us. It is very important not only for the medical community but also to each one of us.

    Any disorder that is classified under a particular category will be treated that way and all the diagnosis and treatment methods will come to depend on the category and classification.In effect, the very way a disorder is seen and treated will depend upon it. SO I hope all of us now see just how much of a bearing the new DSM manual can have on each one of us, not just in terms of treatment but also in terms of insurance as it has rightly been pointed out here.

  • Brandy

    December 5th, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    Anyone who has lived the childhood of an alienated kid would largely disagree with the exclusion of Parental Alienation Syndrome. Both from the victim’s standpoint AND the alienator’s . . . PAS should have made the cut. I’m saddened by this news as I’ve waited years hoping for it’s recognition in the DSM.

  • Dr Charles Parker

    December 10th, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    The DSM naming thing, IMHO, is, quite regrettably, disconnected from humans in the office and perpetuates the old way of vertical case management – “I’m the professional here’s what I observe from the outside.” Regrettable because we keep missing the real person, the biological struggle standing in our face.

    I wrote a comment in Time magazine here that discusses the problems and makes the firm suggestion that we all look more carefully at the new brain science.
    Time: http://fyre.it/DLf1m2

    As the article notes, even the best players in the country agree.

  • Matt Smutko

    January 14th, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Discovering that I have Asperger’s Syndrome answered so many daunting questions that plagued me throughout my life. It was a great “ah-ha” moment that put all the puzzle pieces together. Before I knew and understood this, there was no sufficient explanation why that, despite my best efforts, I just could not fit in and function in society at the same level as “normal” people. I do hope that the condition’s exclusion from the DSM-V will not deprive others of having this mystery solved for themselves.

  • Binge eating

    February 5th, 2013 at 5:07 AM

    Binge eating can be due to several reasons and it can cause many diseases not just fat accumulation. So it is advisable to follow some easy steps in daily life to change habits for betterment of life style and healthy lifestyle.

  • Nate Watkins

    May 3rd, 2013 at 7:57 AM

    please sign this if you’re against the changes in the DSM 5: change.org/petitions/dsm-5-committee-dont-reduce-the-criteria-for-an-autism-spectrum-condition-in-the-dsm-5

  • Kallan

    September 1st, 2023 at 7:35 PM

    I believe it is a very good thing BED was added because there is a large community for this eating disorder. There are also many different things that DSM-5 can do to help. This article gave me something to think about especially all the different kinds of things DSM-5 includes and can help with.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.