Third edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM III), a clinical guide to diagnosing psychiatric disorders


Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons


Robert Spitzer, MD, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons


Spitzer’s work transformed the diagnosis of mental health conditions from a psychoanalytic-based approach to a rigorous, systematic assessment using specific diagnostic criteria. In 1968, he co-developed a computer program that used scores from the Psychiatric Status Schedule to identify a diagnosis. He went on to co-develop the Mood Disorder Questionnaire, a screening tool for bipolar disorder, and a self-administered tool called the Patient Health Questionnaire, which is commonly used to identify signs of depression and other mental illnesses. In 1974, Spitzer became chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s task force to develop the DSM III. Released in 1980, DSM III was the first guide to classify mental disorders according to well-defined diagnostic criteria. Notably, the guide replaced homosexuality, which had been listed in previous manuals as a mental health disorder, with “sexual orientation disturbance,” a condition in which people have distress because of their sexual orientation.