Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 139–154 | Cite as

DSM-5: An Overview of Changes and Controversies

  • Jerome C. WakefieldEmail author
Original Paper


The DSM-5 offers many changes in the criteria and categories used in clinical diagnosis. The provocative and sometimes controversial nature of the changes has enlivened debate in the mental health field about how we should best understand our clients. I selectively survey what is new in DSM-5, why changes were made, and what about them is so controversial. First, I summarize the main metastructural and organizational changes, including elimination of the multiaxial system and changed chapter groupings. Second, I survey the most important new categories of disorder and the most important changes to the diagnostic criteria for existing categories of disorder. I focus on particularly controversial changes, such as those to substance use and addictive disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Pros and cons are provided for changes in criteria as well as for the addition of new disorder categories, such as hoarding disorder and binge eating disorder. Finally, I offer a more in-depth review and analysis of the changes to the depressive disorders chapter, which was subject to some of the most intense controversies and had some of the most extensive changes.


DSM-5 Clinical social work Diagnosis Depressive disorders Mental disorder Harmful dysfunction 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Silver School of Social WorkNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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