Psychiatric Pasts: Looking Back in Female Sexual Dysfunction and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals

 

Katherine Angel
(Queen Mary University of London)

Female Sexual Dysfunction’ is a term that was introduced into the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in its third edition of 1980. The DSM-III is widely glossed as having marked a turning away from psychoanalytic psychiatry in the United States, and towards a newly biological psychiatry, and subsequent DSMs have become crucial for insurance reimbursement in the USA, and play a significant role in coordinating international research and global clinical trials. A significant critique of successive DSMs, including the most recent DSM-V of 2013, has become widespread in the last ten years, focusing in particular on the allegedly unscientific nature of the APA’s decision-making, of its close relationship to the pharmaceutical industry, and on the worldwide exportation of American psychiatric thought. A specifically feminist critique of ‘FSD’ has also emerged and gained significant visibility. I will draw out how both historical and critical accounts of the DSMs tend to unquestioningly reproduce a narrative about the DSM’s history that is in fact insisted upon by the DSM itself: namely, that of the sharp break between psychoanalytic and ‘scientific’ psychiatry. Failing to question this narrative leads, I will argue, to a problematically skewed reading of Western psychiatric history, of the contents of the DSM itself, and of the potential for critiques of ‘FSD’.

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Thursday, 5th February 2015, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: Jerry Morris B, Tavistock Place


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