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Dangerous Experiments

Dangerous Experiments is the LabSpaces spot for guest bloggers. The purpose of the blog is to give new and old bloggers a space to experiment with blogging. If you'd like to contribute to this experiment, send us an e-mail or contact us on twitter at either @LSBlogs or @LabSpaces.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

This week's guest blogger is @ArkhamAsylumDoc! She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is a project scientist at a very nerdy university science lab. You can follow her on twitter for more geekery!


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (known to clinicians as the DSM-IV) is essentially psychiatry and psychology’s “big book” of illnesses. We refer to the manual when assessing and determining the condition(s) our patients may be suffering from. Publication of the fifth edition of the manual (DSM-5) is scheduled for May 2013, and is, according to the American Psychiatric Association, considered one of the "most anticipated events in the mental health field."

Why is this book so important? The manual lists and defines all psychiatric conditions that are recognized as valid illnesses by the field. Clinical scientists, medical doctors, and experienced experts in mental health are in charge of determining the criteria, constructs, and even the name of each disorder. The next edition will have substantial changes. What’s certainly made things interesting for this iteration is that the preliminary draft of the manual is now available for public review. This means we can all peruse the provisional diagnoses and proposed changes.

There are a number of conditions that are still under consideration, and thus remain on the chopping block. These illnesses have never before been published in the reference manual and many are not currently recognized as actual medical or mental health conditions. Using some familiar characters, I briefly describe and illustrate each proposed illness currently under the category of “Psychiatric Conditions Under Review.”

Complicated Grief Disorder—a prolonged state of grief, as if a person is “stuck” in their mourning. The patient suffers from unrelenting disbelief, loss, anguish, and bitterness for longer than 6 months following the death of a loved one. Symptoms include withdrawal from society, isolation, reckless behavior, and excessive cognitive distortions such as “this is my fault.”

Bruce Wayne

Apathy Syndrome—a chronic, debilitating state of indifference and the inability to care about consequences. The patient feels as though nothing matters. In other words: “meh.”

Dr. Manhattan

Male-to-Eunuch Gender Identity Disorder --- A rare condition in which a born-male believes he is neither male nor female, and therefore seeks castration to align his body with his brain’s conception of his correct gender identity.


Parental Alienation Disorder –When a child engages in recurrent and excessive belittlement, criticism, and denigration against a parent. Parental alienation usually occurs within child custody disputes, when one parent deliberately attempts to alienate a child from the other parent.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

Seasonal Affective Disorder—SAD is known as episodic depression that occurs during fall and/or winter months. Symptoms of SAD tend to remit in the summer season. Patients who experience SAD have increased need for sleep (hypersomnia), increased appetite (carbs), difficulty concentrating, and withdrawal from loved ones.

The Grinch

Sensory Processing Disorder—A neurological condition characterized by an over-response to sensation such as touch, sight, or movement. Essentially, sensory signals in the body are not processed normally and simply do not get organized into appropriate responses. This is sometimes referred to a “traffic jam” in the neurological signals that are responsible for organizing our processing and responding to sensory information.


Body Integrity Identity Disorder—a neurological condition characterized by the wish to experience the self as an amputee. Patients with this disorder typically have a strong desire to amputate one or more healthy limbs to achieve that end. If your brain works anything like mine, you simply need to find out why anyone would be compelled to mutilate themselves in this way. Read more from ABC News.

Arm Fall Off Boy--I know, right? Arm Fall Off Boy is a real character; I promise I didn't make him up!

Internet Addiction Disorder – Excessive computer use. The key word is excessive. For this to be a mental condition, a person’s overuse would have a significant interference with his or her functioning in other areas of their life—for instance, work, family, or other relationships. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) is characterized by excessive gaming, gambling, blogging, or shopping on the net. Can you—I mean—can a person with IAD be treated successfully? There is hope.


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Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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I'm pretty sure my wife would say I have IAD :P

Thanks for posting this @ArkhamAsylumDoc!

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Awesome post!

I laughed at poor Robin...sad but true! (at least the non Nightwing versions)

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Open for public opinion, eh? Do you think there will be a ground-swell of naturopaths and other charlatans trying to get their pet psuedo-illnesses included?


How do people like yourself feel about the idea of making this knowledge public, as well as including these new illnesses. Are these new illnesses just describing symptom clusters of other conditions, and are just putting a finer resolution (necessary or otherwise) on them? Or are they something more like newly emergent / recognized conditions?

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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And if you want to learn more about "Arm fall off boy":

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Interesting post thanks for sharing


Guest Comment

@PsyCasm: The agreed-upon categories of illnesses and their symptoms, when published, will have many implications across several disciplines, e.g., law, medicine, pharmacology, and public policy. At this point, many of the modifications in the manual refer to existing disorders, while the addition of "new" disorders is less likely. In fact, it is likely that none of the above-listed disorders will be added.

Brian Scott Ph.D.

Guest Comment

I seriously believe that the human race is evolving to adapt to the new information explosion made possible largely by the internet but started with television.  Those who fail to adapt will fail to flourish and undoubtedly will be labelled by psychiatrists of the future as having "Information processing deficit disorder". Those who have adapted perhaps with info processing implants will be perfectly normal.

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