I was struck by a post on the Critical Psychiatry blog this AM. Duncan Double discusses his experience at a meeting of the radical caucus at the APA on Sunday. His main argument was the need to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems - specifically the DSM, but he mentions that you can apparently provide psychiatric services without an ICD diagnosis in the UK. But then he makes this astonishing comment: " The American psychiatric system has become very dependent on DSM for billing purposes, but I'm sure the insurance companies could develop an alternative system unrelated to DSM. "
I am positive that the American insurance industry would like nothing better than to establish their own "alternative system unrelated to the DSM'. In fact, they are doing it already with a host of measures that they can use to basically deny care or dismantle systems of care. The managed care industry in the US has selectively discriminated against psychiatric services for the past 20 years to the point that most states have little service availability. The motivation for managed care is clear - shift hundreds of billions of dollars away from providing care to persons with mental health and chemical dependency problems and into the pockets of the insurance industry. We are talking about an industry where the CEOs can make an annual salary of millions of dollars and in a famous case the CEO received a $1 billion dollar bonus.
Stated in another way, the "American psychiatric system" is no system at all. There is hardly any availability of psychotherapy services. Most people are restricted to a handful or less of 15 minute visits with a psychiatrist every year. The length of stay in hospitals is appallingly short by UK or European standards and people are asked to leave if they are no longer "suicidal". It is psychiatrists on the one hand being severely restricted in attempting to provide care and a predatory insurance industry trying to make disproportionately more money off policy holders with mental health problems on the other. The government is not a passive player in this effort with most state governments abdicating their role in caring for the indigent and the uninsured often by using managed care tactics. All of this happens independent of any DSM or ICD diagnosis. At the national level, there is a long list of interests who favor the same tactics in order to maintain leverage over doctors and the clinical care advocated by doctors.
Critical psychiatry would rather "Occupy American Psychiatric Association" rather than "Occupy Wall Street" . I guess we can add them to the managed care list. That is exactly the type of reform that the politicians want.