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URGENT: Mislabeling Medical Illness As Mental Disorders


This is probably the scariest thing I have read in a long time. The new DSM 5  book is due out. For those that do not know what it is, this is a direct quote from Psychology Today’s own page on an article about this.  “DSM stands for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is often referred to as the The Bible of mental disorders because it’s what health care practitioners use to decide if their patients have a psychiatric disorder or not.”

They have devised a new category for this book called SSD…which stands for Somatic Symptom Disorder. This is the scary part.  According to this category, a person can be labeled mentally ill if this happens.  In my book, this is a way to label us as hypochondriac by using a new word. This is another direct quote below.

“Here is the new DSM’s definition of Somatic Symptom Disorder. (Warning: you may have trouble believing what you’re about to read.)

People can be diagnosed with SSD if, for at least six months, they’ve had one or more symptoms that are distressing and/or disruptive to their daily life, and if they have ONE of the following three reactions:

Criteria #1: disproportionate thoughts about the seriousness of their symptom(s);

Criteria #2: a high level of anxiety about their symptoms or health; or

Criteria #3: devoting excessive time and energy to their symptoms or health concerns.”

Yes, you just read correctly. If you have for at least six months had ONE OR MORE symptoms that are disrupting to their daily life AND have only ONE of the three criteria above.  A person who has stomach issues could be classified with a mental illness and so could a person with cancer. Oh, this has bothered you for six months and you are anxious about it? Well, no need to do chemo. You just have a mental disorder. And yes, I am being sarcastic.

The American Psychiatry Association say it is too late to change this as the book is due to be published in MAY.  WHAT??????  Now, this left me with two choices…either the “group” from the APA is either very inept in what they do OR what people are saying is true and those things range from…this is political…follow the money….who will benefit…insurance companies will be able to drop coverage…pharmaceutical companies will benefit…research will stop on these auto immune and other chronic illnesses, etc. So, which one is it?  Well, public reaction and doctors have weighed in on this to the group and all they did was make the criteria to diagnose SSD even easier…so you tell me. I believe it is political and some big people/businesses will gain a lot and patients will lose a lot.

Now, with 25 million people suffering in the USA alone with autoimmune disorders and there are 80 plus autoimmune disorders, and then add to that all the other chronically ill people…there is the potential for people to die from lack of care, to lose their disability and insurance, to be labeled mentally ill when they are really physically ill. Just for example, it can take several years for a person with MS or other autoimmune disorders to be diagnosed. And if most of the chronically ill become labeled mentally ill instead of being tested and finding out what is really wrong, research will stop on what the doctors know is happening to us, etc.

Please take the time to read these links from Psychology today and read about what is happening and comment. Please take the time to pass these links to everyone so that people are aware. This could cost people their lives and dehumanize our physical illnesses.  I am not worried for me. I am worried for those newly sick or recently diagnosed with lupus, MECFS, MS and other autoimmune disorders who could be labeled mentally ill.  I am worried for my loved ones and my sons. One of my sons suffered with lesions in his brain and they told him they were sure that it was MS. He is at risk as is my other son who has chronic health problems.

The one thing they have learned about autoimmune disorders is that the people who get them have a genetag and that something environmentally set off that genetag or triggers it. It could be chemicals, like with me, it could be viruses like Epstein Barr or other viruses but something triggered it. But, diagnosing these illnesses is very hard.

Now, let me say this. Do I think there are people who exaggerate their symptoms to get on disability. Yes, I do but not all of us do that and we should not all be punished for those that do. Do I think people with mental illnesses have physical symptoms…yes, I do but they had mental illness BEFORE the physical symptoms set in.  But to set such a vague criteria leaves it wide open for doctors to dismiss us even more. And believe me when I say, since I have been sick since 32, that I have had my share of doctors and their eye rolling only to have it found out that yes, I am really physically sick and was put on disability back in 97. When I had lung surgery and they told me what was wrong, I went “YES!” and my doctor’s response was “oh, you are glad to be sick?”  and my reply was “No, I am glad to have a name for what I have known was wrong for years. ”  Doctors do not listen to women and dismiss us anyway and this will give them leeway to do that even more.

PLEASE, PLEASE re-blog this post, share the links and let the world know for the news media is not even talking about it. If you are healthy…it could be you one day that has that stomach ache and are looking for what is wrong and are anxious about it and are labeled with a mental illness. Many doctors have already put input in saying how dangerous this new category is and that it needs to be changed but the people in the  “group” that formed this new category are not listening.

“After you read this piece, I hope you’ll click on the link to Dr. Frances’ article. He has the best chance (via the number of “page views” on his piece and any comments you leave) to get your feedback to the APA before the DSM-5 goes to press.

Suzy Chapman wrote this to tell us how we can help. I am posting this on my blog and will post again because I care about myself, my loved ones, I care about all of you. I am tweeting this, and I am posting it on every News media site I can find. What about you? Please do not be afraid to stand up for even if they go ahead and print this as is, the attention we bring to the dangers may help if someone gets diagnosed with SSD and really are sick. Read the comments at the bottom on both pages and some of the stories will break your heart.

How can readers help?

Submitted by Suzy Chapman on December 29, 2012 – 1:46pm.

Anonymous wrote:

“Thank you for this article, Psych Today. To reiterate previous requests, can anyone tell us how we can weigh in on the subject?”

Anonymous, the disorder description, rationale and criteria for “Somatic Symptom Disorder” have been in development since 2008, following assembly of the 13 DSM-5 Work Groups. The SSD group published a couple of brief progress reports in late 2008 and spring 2009, and a journal paper in June 2009 on the group’s deliberations.

There have been three stakeholder review and comment exercises, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, that have been open to submissions from clinicians, allied health professionals, advocacy orgs, patients and families.

The third and final draft review took place in May-June, this year, when professionals and lay public could again submit comment on what would be the last draft to be posted for review.

Any revisions made since closure of the review to criteria sets won’t be known until the manual is published in May 2013. (The manual texts that accompany and expand on the various disorder descriptions and criteria sets have been embargoed from the start and have not been posted for public scrutiny or comment.)

The text that will accompany the “Somatic Symptom Disorder” section, under which SSD is one of several disorders, is understood to run to six or seven pages. But there will also be an abridged version of DSM-5 for use in primary care settings.

For the second draft, the criteria were a little tighter – at least two from the B type criteria were required for a diagnosis of SSD.

But despite the number of submissions received during the second draft review exercise in response to these specific criteria, the SSD Work Group’s response has been to reduce the threshold to at least one from the B type criteria.

So it seems that thus far, the SSD Work Group remains disturbingly lacking in receptiveness to the considerable concerns of professionals, patients, advocates and patient orgs.

The texts for DSM-5 are still being finalized, but this is very much a time sensitive issue.

Dr Frances has asked me to thank all of you for leaving comments – the response to our concerns has been tremendous.

At this late stage in the process the best kind of help is exposure on as many platforms as possible – to as many patient groups as we can reach and drive traffic to this post.

These criteria will potentially hurt the so-called “functional somatic syndromes” more than other patient groups – over 25% in the field trials.

But all illness groups will be hurt by the SSD category unless the criteria are substantially revised or unless SSD is left out of the mental disorders until there is a body of rigorous evidence to support the validity, reliability and safety of this untried, untested, SSD construct.

So we need your help to reach out to all illness groups – and quickly, because the clock is ticking.

If you have a blog or a website please blog on this issue and link back to this post.

Inform your carers, family and friends and suggest they read our commentary and leave a comment, too.

The more hits on this blog post and the number of comments that are left will demonstrate to the APA just how much concern there is around this new category.

Circulate the link amongst friends, student and work colleagues; ask them to forward it on to their own contacts; post the link and a quote or two on all the internet platforms, forums and mailing lists you post on; on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re commenting on media articles or on blogs please draw attention to our concerns and include a link, if links are permitted.

If you have contacts who are medical or allied health professionals, social workers, medical lawyers, policy makers or politicians, alert them, too, and ask them to forward to their colleagues. Not enough clinicians outside of psychiatry have been scrutinizing these proposals.

If you are a member of an advocacy organization alert their news and e-bulletin compilers and post the link on patient org Facebook pages and membership forums.

Also reach out to advocacy orgs for disability, welfare, the over 50s (when many people develop long term health problems and life-threatening diseases), platforms for the elderly, children and teens with chronic illnesses, and for caregivers.

In the DSM-5 Field Trials, one in six patients with cancer and coronary disease met the criteria for SSD. Dr Frances and I would be interested to hear as soon as possible from representatives of advocacy organizations for people living with illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes and from spokespersons for other chronic illness organizations.

There will be a new initiative launching in the New Year that patients can help publicise – keep an eye on my site for announcements.

Thank you,

Suzy Chapman and Dr Allen Frances


December 29, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers?
    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
    Any tips?

    Comment by Maria | May 12, 2013 | Reply

    • No, I don’t. I keep copies of all my posts because I am afraid of losing them.

      Comment by danLrene ©2011 | May 12, 2013 | Reply

  2. Not only are the facts about drugs upsetting, they
    are also embarrassing. That statistic represents 7.
    June 26 is celebrated as International Day against drug abuse and Illicit Trafficking every
    year. But there are drug rehab centers, which are making the path to a normal
    life much easier for the person involved. People
    die every day because of drugs and alcohol and without treatment.
    It is necessary for parent(s) and other adults to provide a positive, responsible role model for the teenagers.

    – 14. Such interactions benefit the addicts in a very positive way.

    Comment by Keenan | January 14, 2013 | Reply

  3. Many thanks for highlighting my joint blog with Dr Allen Frances. I wonder, though, if you would mind adjusting the link to:

    as the URL you have is pointing to the second page not to the start of the commentary. Also, the first link you have is not for Dr Frances’ commentary but for Toni Bernhard’s response to our commentary. Many thanks, Suzy

    Comment by meagenda | December 30, 2012 | Reply

    • You are more than welcome. This is too important. And I adjusted the link.

      Comment by danLrene ©2011 | December 30, 2012 | Reply

  4. Unbelievable!

    Comment by jmgoyder | December 29, 2012 | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on

    Comment by lenwilliamscarver | December 29, 2012 | Reply

  6. ABSOLUTELY WILL POST AND REPOST THIS…. after years of being told mine was in my head and they finally figured it out I had three major heartattacks …died on the table with the first one, then the fibro and now copd, kidney disease and chf, and they still think I am mental half the time. This has to be changed, stopped something or is this just their way of getting us to die sooner and restore our pitiful amount of disability?

    Comment by lenwilliamscarver | December 29, 2012 | Reply

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