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Jan 4, 2012               

Is the American Psychiatric Association a terrorist organization?

Yesterday I was concerned about the demise of the US Constitution ("Yes, we can!"); today I am concerned about the demise of the US American Psychiatric Association, aka APA (*), as a legitimate, scientific, honest, and moral organization.

It seems to me it is not, for various reasons, and I will try to explain why I think so in three sections:

1. Introduction
2. Texts by Suzy Chapman and Alan Frances
3. Is the American Psychiatric Association a terrorist organization?

Note that the second section is not by me but is quoted, and that in the rest of my text I write out my own opinions, and not (necessarily) those of either Ms. Chapman or Mr. Frances.

1. Introduction

Since I am ill since more than 33 years, with ME/CFS, and am degree-wise a mere psychologist and philosopher (of science, mostly: I don't like bullshit, which is what much philosophy of the more abstruse, literate, existentialist or postmodern variety is: Undiluted bullshit published for reasons of personal fame and personal advancement), let me start with two references by - what reasonable persons must admit are - real specialists.

The first is a link to an ongoing series of blog-articles in Psychology Today by dr. Alan Frances M.D., who is an emeritus professor of psychiatry and the chief editor of the DSM-IV, who is quite concerned with the way the DSM-5 is being developed, and with good reasons;  the second is a link to a report (in pdf) by the fellows of the British Psychological Society, who share the concerns of dr. Frances, and published an excellent point-by-point discussion of the planned DSM-5 in June of 2011:

- emeritus professor of psychiatry dr. Alan Frances: DSM-5 in distress
- British Psychological Society: Response to the APA DSM-5 development

Here is the first paragraph of the latter's respons:

The Society is concerned that clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which undoubtedly have distressing consequences which demand helping responses, but which do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation.

I am myself very much concerned with the DSM-5's contents and with its pseudoscientific presumptions, its (intentionally) obscurantistic and ambiguous language, and its lack of intellectual rigor and medical morality, and wrote repeatedly about it in 2010 and 2011 e.g. here:

- On the DSM-5TM
- Submission to the DSM-5 Task Force of the APA

The last is my taking apart of APA-prose and is intended both as sound philosophy of science and as satire: I cannot take any supposed scientific organization serious that publishes the sort of extremely ill-written utterly fallacious nonsense as the APA does, and am in a position - ill, old, without money, and without illusions about the APA's intentions or morals: "It's about money and power, stoopid!" - to speak my mind freely.

Most persons cannot do so, for various sound personal reasons, and one of these is Ms. Suzy Chapman, who maintains two excellent sites, one about ME/CFS, and one about the DSM-5, that I linked, named and quoted repeatedly the last two years, and that are highly recommended for anyone with a serious interest in either subject:

- ME agenda
- Dx Revision Watch (was: dsm5watch)

The reason these sites are so good is that Ms. Chapman has a fine mind and a talent for rational exposition, and that she presents great amounts of links to background knowledge and objective information about the subjects she writes about.

Also, while it is clear what Ms. Chapman's moral position is, she does provide the facts, the links, and the information in an objective, clear and rational manner, and she knows her subjects really well: Whoever wants to get a grip on the scientific and political facts and issues related to either subject are best advised to start at her sites, because they present fair, impartial, well-presented overviews of their subjects, based on much relevant knowledge, and much hard work.

It is for these and other reasons quite amazing and disturbing that the American Psychiatric Association has attempted to have her site about the DSM-5 shut down with menaces and threats - while Ms. Chapman's site on the subject does no more nor less than what the APA repeatedly has claimed that it desires "the public" to do: Seriously consider and discuss the contents of the DSM-5 - and in fact Ms. Chapman does so in a considerably clearer way than the professionals of that association seem capable of (having lost my way repeatedly in the APA's ill-designed and very pretentious and self-serving site(s)).

Here is Ms. Chapman herself on what happened, including a bit by dr. Frances:

2. Texts by Suzy Chapman and Alan Frances

The following is by Ms. Chapman and by dr. Frances:

APA forces domain name change for "DSM-5 and ICD-11 Watch" site + Allen Frances blog

From Suzy Chapman for

Dx Revision Watch


03 January 2012

APA forces domain name change for "DSM-5 and ICD-11 Watch" site + Commentary from Allen Frances, MD, who had chaired the DSM-IV Task Force

On December 22, with just one working day left before offices closed down for the Christmas and New Year holidays, I received two communications from the Licensing and Permissions department of American Psychiatric Publishing, A Division of American Psychiatric Association, informing me that the unauthorized use of the DSM 5 mark in my domain name is improper and in violation of United States Trademark Law.

I was advised that my actions may subject me to contributory infringement liability including increased damages for wilful infringement. I was requested to immediately cease and desist any and all use of the DSM 5 mark, remove the DSM 5 mark from my domain name and provide documentation confirming I had done so, and that any further use would be considered an infringement.

Given the difficulties of liaising from the UK with American Psychiatric Publishing and with my Californian based site hosts, WordPress, over the holiday and mindful of the implied consequences should I delay taking action, I considered I had little option but to change the site’s domain and title.

Since December 23, this site has been operating under the title Dx Revision Watch and the site’s domain name has been changed to


As a result of changing the domain name, links on websites, forums and social media platforms for posts published prior to December 23 and for pages cached on Google and other search engines before that date will no longer point to this site and will return a “site deleted” or 404 message.

If you have bookmarked or are linking to my site please update your links.

Today, on Psychology Today, Dr Allen Frances, who chaired the DSM-IV Task Force, has blogged on the action the APA has taken against me:


DSM5 in Distress

The DSM's impact on mental health practice and research.

by Allen Frances, M.D.

Is DSM 5 A Public Trust Or An APA Cash Cow?
Commercialism And Censorship Trump Concern For Quality

Published on January 3, 2012 by Allen J. Frances, M.D. in DSM5 in Distress

DSM 5 will have a big impact on how millions of lives are led and how scarce mental health resources are spent. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment can be life enhancing, even life saving. Incorrect diagnosis can lead to the prescription of unnecessary and potentially harmful medication and to the diversion of services away from those who really need them and toward those who are better left alone. Preparing DSM 5 should be a public trust of the highest order.

But DSM 5 is also an enormously profitable commercial venture. DSMs are perpetual best sellers (at least one hundred thousand copies sold every year) netting the American Psychiatric Association yearly profits exceeding five million dollars.

From the very start of work on DSM 5, APA took unprecedented steps to protect its commercial interest- but in the process betrayed its obligation to the public trust. Work group members were recruited only on condition that they first sign confidentiality agreements - thereby squelching the free flow of ideas that is absolutely necessary to produce a quality diagnostic manual. 'Intellectual property' has been the priority - a safe, scientifically sound DSM 5 has been the victim.

DSM 5 commercialism and heavy handed censorship have recently assumed a new and troubling form. APA is exercising its 'DSM 5' trademark to unfairly stifle an extremely valuable source of information. Suzy Chapman, a patient advocate from England, runs a highly respected and authoritative site providing the best available information on the preparation of both DSM and ICD. Her writings can always be relied upon for fairness, accuracy, timeliness, and clarity. The site has gained a grateful following with over 40,000 views in its first two years.

Ms Chapman recently sent me the following email describing her David vs Goliath struggle with the APA and its disturbing implications both for DSM 5 and for internet freedom:

"Until last week, my website published under the domain name http://dsm5watch.wordpress.com/.

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 http://dxrevisionwatch.wordpress.com.

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."

"Was APA justified in seeking to exercise its trademark rights in this situation? Or do APA's actions fly in the face of accepted internet trademark practice, common sense, and good public relations? I am not a lawyer, but I have made a careful study of 'U.S. Trademark Law, Rules of Practice & Federal Statutes, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, November 8, 2011' and of many other available sources. My conclusion is that APA is making excessive and unwarranted claims for its DSM 5 trademark. Courts have found that using a trademark in a domain or subdomain name is 'fair use' if the purpose is non commercial, where there is no intent to mislead, where use of the mark is pertinent to the subject of discussion, and where it is clear that the user is not implying endorsement by, or affiliation with, the holder of the mark."

"The home page of my site clearly defines its purpose - 'DSM-5 and ICD-11 Watch - Monitoring the development of DSM-5, ICD-11, ICD-10-CM' and carries this disclaimer,

'This site has no connection with and is not endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., World Health Organization (WHO) or any other organization, institution, corporation or company. This site has no affiliations with any commercial or not-for-profit organization...This site does not accept advertising, sponsorship, funding or donations and has no commercial links with any organization, institution, corporation, company or individual.'"

"It puzzles and worries me that APA would seek to suppress my clearly non commercial resource created only to provide information and commentary on the revision process of two internationally used classifications. My only purpose is to inform interested stakeholders and those patient groups whose medical and social care may potentially be impacted by proposals for changes to diagnostic categories and criteria."

"There is a paradox here. The APA has promoted its commitment to transparency of process, but has rarely demonstrated it. Much has been made of the posting of drafts for public review and soliciting feedback. But to usefully participate in this process, patients, patient groups, and advocacy organizations need to know about proposed changes and when and by what means they can input comment during public review periods. Now, because of APA's arbitrary actions, it will be harder for them to find the information they need- just when they most need it."

I am surprised and saddened by APA's ill-conceived attempt to restrict Suzy Chapman's free expression on DSM 5. It can only be in the service of the equally unworthy goals of censorship and/or commercialism. I simply can't imagine that anything should ever be kept secret in the preparation of a diagnostic manual and wonder what in Suzy Chapman's web site could possibly be so frightening to APA.

Using a trademark to suppress comment is a violation of APA's public trust to produce the best possible DSM 5. This is another indication that DSM has become too important for public health and for public policy for its revisions to be left under the exclusive control of one professional organization - particularly when that organization's own financial future is at stake. This basic conflict of interest can be cured only by creating a new institutional framework to supervise the future DSM revisions. Censorship and commercial motivations must not warp the development of a safe and scientifically sound diagnostic manual.



1]Legal Guide for Bloggers:
2]U.S. Trademark Law, Rules of Practice & Federal Statutes, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, November 8, 2011 PDF:

3] Dx Revision Watch: http://dxrevisionwatch.wordpress.com/
4] Dr Allen Frances MD, former chair, DSM-IV Task Force, blogs at "DSM5 in Distress" on "Psychology Today":
5] APA's DSM-5 Development site:
6] Somatic Symptom Disorders current proposals:

Suzy Chapman


3. Is the American Psychiatric Association a terrorist organization?

As dr. Frances put it - who, it should be added in fairness, probably inclines to answer the question in my title with "No":

DSM 5 commercialism and heavy handed censorship have recently assumed a new and troubling form. APA is exercising its 'DSM 5' trademark to unfairly stifle an extremely valuable source of information. Suzy Chapman, a patient advocate from England, runs a highly respected and authoritative site providing the best available information on the preparation of both DSM and ICD. Her writings can always be relied upon for fairness, accuracy, timeliness, and clarity. The site has gained a grateful following with over 40,000 views in its first two years.

This motivates my questions:

How can one possibly do what the APA asked the public to do, and asked repeatedly, and stressed its importance, and did so without ever outlining its bully-policies on trademarks, namely organize internet-materials about the DSM-5 and present these to the public as a basis for rationally and reasonably discussing the DSM-5, if one is persecuted with menaces and threats when one uses the sacred mark "dsm5" - and that not even standing by itself, but as a part of the expression "dsm5watch"?!

On what - no doubt: hardly sane, hardly legal - grounds does the APA issue legal menaces, threats and accusations, all without any but the most vague relations to a trademark (while the divine name "dsm5", incidentally has NOT been trademarked by them, so far as I have seen the evidence, and "dsm5watch" certainly has not been!) - to a private person, who clearly, and in good faith, has done no less and no more than do what the APA itself has asked the public to do? And who does not do so for money nor for commercial reasons, as is very clear from her site? Who does neither attack nor defend the APA, but who presents the materials for discussing the DSM-5 and who has some concerns about it, but who always argues rationally and politely? And who does present the materials relating to the DSM-5 in a better and clearer way - as both dr. Frances and I can testify - than the APA itself manages to do, on its so-called "professional" website(s)?

And why did the APA issue its threats, menaces and harassments in the holiday season, "within 10 days or else", when it was clear that they would themselves be NOT available for discussion, and impose a lot of work on a private person, merely because she, naively and in good faith, used the apparently APA-hallowed characters "dsm5" as part of the name of her site "dsm5watch", simply because that is what her site does and is for: Keep a watch on and track of the development of the DSM-5 and further its public discussion? Precisely as the American Psychiatric Association asked the public to do?

Since when can one not use the name of a product to refer to the product, in a combined term that is clearly not a trademark nor meant to be used as that trademark? On a site that is explicitly not commercial and is only meant to further what the APA itself claims to want: Public discussion of the DSM-5?

Whoever else - the American Psychological Association, for example, or the British Psychological Society, or any other private person who has a blog or site for the purpose of discussing the DSM-5, of which there are quite a few - in which the holy and hallowed trademarked letters "d" "s" "m" "5" occur, somehow, in any context, that are claimed to be reserved by the legal operatives of the American Psychiatric Association for use of the APA only, will be the next victim to be bullied and harassed?

And isn't anyone justified to conclude from this and from the contents of the DSM 5 that the American Psychiatric Association is willing to resort to menaces, threats and harassment of private persons - in short: terrorism - to get its way? Which seems to be: Make it factually impossible for the public to get a clear outline of the contents of the DSM-5, before it is officially published in 2013, while the editors of that work pretend they want a public discussion?

In short: Is the American Psychiatric Association a terrorist organization?

From the way Ms Chapman has been treated by the representatives of that association, it seems to me the answer is clear: Prepare yourself to be bullied, threatened, menaced, harassed and lied to,  if you try to discuss the American Psychiatric Association objectively and rationally, or do the work they should have done better than they could do themselves, while you dare to use the terms "DSM-5" as in "dsm5bully" or in any other combination, such as "dsm5watch" or "dsm5sucks".

For the American Psychiatric Association does not want its pseudoscientific bullshit rationally discussed, outlined or commented without its playing censor, and for what I have read from the DSM-5 - for which see e.g. Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness and The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has gone crazy -- like a fox, both not by me, both well-informed - the leadership of the APA is right that the APA has much to fear from any rational public discussion of their work, of their policies, of their morals, and of their pseudoscience (<- Wikipedia).

(*) There are several APAs, and what makes it more confusing is that there are both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association. Being myself blessed with an - excellent - M.A. in the science of psychology, I tend to call the former the A trics A and the latter the A psy A. (Again oddly, given all of the text above: The A psy A = apa.org while the A trics A = psych.org: The A psy A better watch out for the legal bullies and menaces of the A trics A as regards the hallowed "apa" term!)


Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- Jan 5, 2012: Undid a few typos.


As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):
1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.

See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

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