DSM, sales rankings and dinner parties


By John Soderlund

One Michael Lawrie enjoys the dubious honour of having his customer review for DSM IV (TR) posted first on the list of Amazon.com's (http://www.amazon.com) reviews of the new text revision of the manual.

But his comments are not the most likely of those on offer to boost sales of the book. Or are they?

"Although DSM-IV is the bible of psychiatric diagnosis it's validity as a party game should not be overlooked. With a group of people gathered round you can almost certainly categorise any one of them with numerous mental disorders that should technically have them locked away for years Psychiatrists will have you believe that some skill is required to use DSM, most lay people with a brain, however, will start to realise that the validity of this book can be somewhat questionable and really is best used as a party game."

On February 2, the day Lawrie's review enjoyed such a prominent position, DSM IV, in its softcover edition, enjoyed a sales rank of 261 on Amazon - an impressive rank in anyone's book. So, DSM IV (TR) is selling like hotcakes from Amazon. Three questions arise:

1. Is the high sales rank linked to DSM's increasing popularity at dinner parties or the growing appeal of its clinical utility? One suspects that, at 943 pages in length, the DSM tome is more likely to fit comfortably on the shelves of psychologists and psychiatrists than in the tiny black leather evening bags of the svelte dinner party set.

2. Is the fact that so many qualify for a diagnosis at dinner parties an indicator of the worrying mental condition of the socially active or is it a reflection on the overinclusivity of diagnostic criteria?

3. With so many copies of DSM IV in circulation, could it be that it is becoming fashionable to have a diagnosis from the big book? Or am I just delusional?



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