Once again I am just the scounting party or the warmup act, whichever you prefer, for the Health Care Renewal blog, in this case Dr. Bernard Carroll:
Dr. Carroll submits evidence that the American Psychiatric Association, currently under fire for the way that it is setting about revising its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM-5)--see for example earlier posting:
--has now shut down a UK blog that was serving as a discussion forum for criticisms of the DSM-5 proposed revisions. APA threatened legal action based on copyright infringement if the blog did not close down its discussion of DSM-5. (Hey APA-- I just said "DSM-5" in this blog post--come and sue me too.)
Dr. Carroll makes a number of on-target observations in his post. He notes that this action by the APA amounts to what's called "SLAPP," which as I discussed in HOOKED means "strategic lawsuit against public participation." In this case it would be a threatened SLAPP rather than a true SLAPP, as no lawsuit was filed, but the fear of having to go up individually against the deep legal pockets of the APA forced the UK blogger to knuckle under promptly. A SLAPP is not a lawsuit that has merit that could win in a court of law--it's a power play in which the disproportionate ability of one party to pay for legal expenses without going broke is used to make the other party cease public criticism of the other party.
He also notes the divergence between appropriate professional standards and the behavior of the APA. Does the APA own psychiatric diagnosis? The organization makes huge bucks off selling the DSM which is effectively the Bible of psychiatric diagnostic labelling, whether your interest is clinical or financial in terms of billing for services. Dr. Carroll asks--why have we entrusted the APA with this publication? It can only be because society has confidence that an organization of physicians will carry out its mission with scientific integrity. Scientific integrity demands that if there's controversy, it is conducted openly and that what in the end gets published has withstood the most searching scientific criticism possible.
To try to shut down and stifle criticism because one hopes to make money off one's product is commercialism and not professionalism. That the APA appears to be acting in this crassly commercial manner would seem a severe indictment of what sorts of people are allowed to manage so-called "professional" medical societies in these times.
Previously I have taken off after my own professional society, the American Academy of Family Physicians, for behavior suggestive of commercialism and conflicts of interest:
I would ordinarily not want to commit myself as to which society has sunk lower in the area of professional integrity, but I think the award has to go to APA-- at least if people disagree with what the AAFP is up to, the AAFP has not stepped in threatening legal action against their right to express their views.