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Friday, January 6, 2012

#124- APA Bullying RE: DSM5 Watch site.

Please note that Suzy Chapman's blog, DSM-5 watch, has moved to
The reasons are Orwellian, Suzy says here

"Until last week, my website published under the domain name .

On December 22, I was stunned to receive two emails from the Licensing and Permissions department of American Psychiatric Publishing, claiming that the domain name my site operates under was infringing upon the DSM 5 trademark in violation of United States Trademark Law and that my unauthorized actions may subject me to contributory infringement liability including increased damages for willful infringement. I was told to cease and desist immediately all use of the DSM 5 mark and to provide documentation within ten days confirming I had done so."

"Given my limited resources compared with APA's deep pockets, I had no choice but to comply and was forced to change my site's domain name to

Hits to the new site have plummeted dramatically and it will take months for traffic to recover - just at the time when crucial DSM 5 decisions are being made."

Please spread the word.
PS: added by a friend:

Will the APA please recline on the couch?

When I attempt analysis of a situation or occurrence, I include questions like; ‘how else could things have gone’ or ‘how else could x have behaved’. Seeing alternatives often highlights the choices that have been made.

The APA letter to Suzy Chapman (see appears to be written in legalese to my untrained eye, so it may have been written by a lawyer acting on behalf of others. Therefore the wording of the letter does not give clues about motives or processes. The fact that it is legalese and is threatening does give information.

How else could it have been done? Perhaps a friendly email from someone asking if Ms Chapman would mind corresponding or having a telephone conversation about her website may have been an option. Or if more purposeful action was thought appropriate, a letter could have requested changing the domain name and pointed-out that the current name infringed copyright. It might have been nice if the APA had offered to compensate Ms Chapman for any costs and inconvenience incurred in helping with their request.

In other words, a collegial and civilized approach was feasible and threats and other heavy-handed tactics could have been saved for a last resort. They were not.

Therefore it appears that a choice was made to be heavy-handed. A major organization versus an independent citizen. It looks like bullying from any angle.

The APA are fussing about anyone using their branded ‘DSM’ name. Naming a thing is always symbolic of understanding something about its nature. Renaming is indicative of change and therefore changing its nature. This results in loss of the old identity. That the APA is in some respects reinventing itself with DSM-5 seems quite likely. The comfortable old identity, partly bound to DSM-IV is being lost so the organization is thrown into uncertainty. Rather like a person experiencing a significant change of role. They may be excited by new possibilities but at the same time feel the loss of the old way of being. This can lead to insecurity and any challenge to the identity – old or new, is felt acutely.

So here is an organization which represents perhaps the stodgiest of all the health specialities, conservative, authoritarian and awkward in relating to others that is having an identity crisis during its transition from DSM-IV to DSM-5.

Little wonder they are behaving somewhat hysterically as they appear to be in neurosis. The longing to cling to the known and trusted good-old-ways seems to be in conflict with the desire to modernize, get hip, and start relating to the real world rather than living in the deep and cosy recesses of its own bottom. The good-old-days when patients did what they were told and didn’t answer back are gone. The times when a few highfalutin 4 syllable words daunted commentators is past. It’s a brave new world.

Take heart APA. There is a valued place for psychiatry and psychology in this frantic modern world (as I hope my light-hearted ‘analysis’ shows).

Change will happen. Try to identify the unavoidable losses and make them a conscious sacrifice. Be accepting of uncertainty about who you are and what you are for – you cannot completely control these; only discover them on your journey into the future. Try to avoid imposing your own fears on others along the way.
Permission to Repost.

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