DSM Alternative Zine

Links To Download Zine:

DSM Zine to Read on Your Computer

DSM Zine Ready To Print

Contribute your own Depiction of Self Identified Madness and see the continuation of this project on Tumblr:


About the Zine

“Depictions of Self-Identified Madness: A Visionary Alternative to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” is a collection of over thirteen self portraits created by individuals who self identify as having madness, mental health issues, or as being a psychiatric survivors. Accompanying their self portraits are their responses to the following questions:

“What is the name of your madness?
What are the hallmarks (both positive and negative) of your madness?
What tools do you use for wellness?
What is your self-percieved prognosis?”

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (APA, 2013) is often referred to as “psychiatry’s bible” and is the standard text used to diagnose what is called mental illness in the United States. The latest edition, DSM5 was released by the American Psychiatric Association just weeks before this zine was published, in May 2013 (APA, 2013).

The DSM is supposedly useful for several reasons. Supposedly, once a patient is diagnosed, it provides a way for clinicians to quickly reference their patient’s symptoms in a way that will be understood by other clinicians. However, field studies from the DSM 5 show this just isn’t true based on studies that found that there was low inter-rater reliability for diagnosis (not very reliable that two clinicians would always give the same patient the same diagnosis)(Carney, 2013). The APA however still claims their inter-rater reliability because they have lowered their standards (Carney, 2013).

If one of the reasons the DSM is useful is because accurate diagnosis leads to better treatment this lack of inter-rater reliability is a very big problem for patients. The APA claims the DSM to be evidence based scientific document. These claims have been argued to be untrue by doctors who at some point were part of updating the DSM, such as psychologist Paula Caplan, Ph.D. in her 2006 interview on madness radio (Hall & Caplan, 2006).

In the weeks and months preceding the DSM5 release a large number of people came out against the DSM5. These groups include psychiatric survivor groups such as Occupy Psychiatry(2013) The UK Division of Clinical Psychology, a sub-division of the British Psychological Society (2013), for a period of time the United State’s own National Institute of Mental Health (2013), and Dr. Allen Frances (2013), the former Chair of the task force that headed DSM-V.

Psychiatric diagnosis is deeply harmful for many people. Some of the many reasons of this are: the stigma that is attached with being diagnosed can affect social relationships, ability to get jobs, quality of care from doctors and hospitals, being viewed as incompetent to participate in certain groups, and being a target for harassment, discrimination, and other violence. Many patients who are given psychiatric diagnoses are told they will be mentally ill for their rest of their lives, and that they may need to take medication(s) for the rest of their lives.


Copying, Quoting, and Distribution Guidelines

This zine can be read online or downloaded for print distribution for free here. Please distribute the zine in its entirety wide and far- however you may NOT sell the zine for money. **I do ask that you please print or copy the zine in color whenever possible to maintain the integrity of the artwork.** 

If you wish to reproduce only a portion of the text or an image from the zine for another work I ask that you please request approval before you do so. Please email dreamsandzines@gmail.com with the subject title “Quotation Request”. In your email please tell me in what new work you want the new work to appear and what specifically you want to reproduce. You must cite the zine title and me as the zine editor and list this website if you quote something from the zine. You should hear back from with me within 48 hours, usually the same day.


Lecture about the Zine presented at a speakers panel against the DSM 5 held by Community Access on 5/19/13:



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical 

manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Washington, DC: Author.

Carney, J. (2013). The DSM-5 field trials: Inter-rater reliability ratings take a nose dive. Mad in America. Retrieved from: http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/03/the-dsm-5-field-trials-inter-rater-reliability-ratings-take-a-nose-dive/

Division of Clinical Psychology (2013). Division of Clinical Psychology position statement on the classification of behaviour and experience in relation to functional psychiatric diagnoses. Division of  Clinical Psychology. Retrieved from: http://dcp.bps.org.uk/dcp/the_dcp/news/dcp-position-statement-on-classification.cfm

Frances, A. (2013). Under new psychiatric guidebook we might all be labelled mad. The conversation. Retrieved from: http://theconversation.com/under-new-psychiatric-guidebook-we-might-all-be-labelled-mad-14132

Hall, W. (Interviewer) & Caplan, P. (interviewee). (2006). Madness Radio: Paula Caplan deciding who is normal [Interview audio file]. Retrieved from Madness Radio Web site: http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-paula-caplan-deciding-who-normal

Insel, T. (2013). Transforming diagnosis. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml


9 thoughts on “DSM Alternative Zine

  1. Thanks for sharing your alternative to the DSM-5 method at our “Beyond Diagnosis: The Pitfalls of the Diagnostic Process” panel! We’ve posted an overview of the event on our blog: “DSM 5… The Pitfalls of the Diagnostic Process.” http://tinyurl.com/n39r3s3

    –Community Access

  2. Santa says:

    Very energetic blog, I enjoyed that bit. Will there be a part 2?|

    • Thank you so much for your feedback, I’m glad you enjoyed the zine! For the time being I am encouraging people to submit their own depiction of self identified madness to dreamsandzines.tumblr.com for a continuation of the project in digital form. If I get many new submissions I would love to compile a new printable zine! In addition I have received the honor just today to be asked to be an expert contributor for the website dxsummit.org run by the Society for Humanistic Psychology. Stay tuned for a new post from me with more elaborate thoughts about how to change the system of diagnosis!

  3. Cause says:

    This is wondrous. Such a generous and constructive gift to our community. Thank you.

  4. Good information on Depression DIGGIING IT! Treatments and cures are important for all types and symptoms of depression

  5. […] summer if I would be willing to be a contributor on this forum after Chloe Detrick happened upon a zine which I am the editor of called Depictions of Self Identified Madness: A Visionary Alternative to […]

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