Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health(DSM)
By Dana Morningstar
This is a manual of mental disorders which is published (and continually being revised) by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is currently in its 5th edition, and is referred to as the DSM-V. The DSM categorizes a wide range of mental health disorders, including mental illnesses, personality disorders, and developmental disorders that impair cognitive development.
The DSM is often referred to as the “Bible” of mental health professionals. While the different personality disorders are interesting and can lead to clarity and validation for some people, it can be helpful to realize that diagnosing someone with a personality disorder, or even a mental illness, isn’t an exact science. It’s more of an art, and to add more confusion to the mix, it’s an art that is ever-changing.
For these reasons, I would encourage you to focus more on the behaviors and less on the labels. Spotting problematic behavior is what’s essential. Labels change. So, even if the concerning person in your life isn’t officially diagnosed with a personality disorder, it doesn’t mean they don’t have damaging behavior that is worthy of distancing yourself from, or being a deal breaker.
Dana Morningstar is a former psychiatric nurse turned domestic violence educator who specializes in abuse awareness and prevention. Her passion is working with survivors of abuse to reclaim and rebuild their self-esteem, boundaries, confidence, and identity. She is an author of multiple books on the subject, and also has a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, as well as several online support groups, all of which you can find under the name “Thrive After Abuse.”