Document Type

Symposium

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

Given its importance to the law, it is regrettable that judges and lawyers do not fully understand how the DSM is constructed, and the bedrock of values on which it rests. As evidence of this, lawyers and judges often refer to the DSM as the “psychiatric bible.” This language is both fascinating and perplexing. This Article will attempt to correct the notion that the DSM is a legal “psychiatric bible” by explaining how it is created and used by the medical field. It will also provide a few reasons why the law may have come to view it as a “bible," and will describe an alternative to the DSM, empowered by a new research tool called the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). While the DSM may be an imperfect legal tool, this Article calls for a more nuanced application of its diagnoses rather than abandoning it whole cloth in favor of the RDoC, or any other singular diagnostic criteria.