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Our Increasing Insanity / The Evolution of the DSM

Infographic Key / Each starting node at the end of a dotted line represents a main category in the DSM. Nodes further out from the center represent sub categories.


Since it’s first publication in 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has been the standard for modern psychiatric medicine. Over the past 60 years, our understanding of psychiatric medicine has evolved, and the DSM has evolved with it. Today, the DSM-5 is starkly different from DSM-I; where the latter used broad strokes, DSM-5 is meticulously detailed.

The evolution of the DSM has played a leading role in the medicalization of psychiatry, and has consequently sparked controversy. Proponents argue the hyper-specificity of DSM-5 has led to more accurate diagnoses, while critics argue it has simply led to more. We find this controversy interesting, and decided the best place to start was to map the growth of the DSMs.

All of the data was manually collected from physical editions of the DSM’s. We have made the data available for download below.

the DATA