Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM Series Part I ~ Diminished Salaries & The Demise of the Profession of Psychology

 

By the time the DSM III R was published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1987, the field of psychology had been on the way to its demise.  Many would argue that with the publication of the DSM III in 1980 the writing was on the wall.  The “political” rivalries that dominated the work conducted by multiple committees were the beginning of the downfall of psychology as the crown of science. 

 

Certainly, the rise of the American Psychological Association (note:  This is a “different” APA than above.) and its encroachment on the credentialing (accreditation) of colleges and university programs in psychology crested during that same time.  It is odd to observe these forces at work at the same time, but the fact is psychology became more politicized and psychiatry overtook psychology during those years as the profession recognized as the leader in mental health treatment.  During that time the pay of the average psychologist diminished greatly.

 

While liberals, especially feminists, blamed the drastic decrease in salaries to male chauvinism and the field becoming recognized as a field dominated by women who we don’t pay as much as men, the sad realities are a bit different.  Certainly, the profession today has more women than men.  Salaries are depressed for all. 

 

Psychiatry achieved dominance by getting their DSM series recognized and adopted by the entire profession, including psychologists and social workers.  Adoption of psychiatry’s DSM was guaranteed when insurance companies began reimbursing services for disorders coded with DSM diagnoses.  Moreover, the DSM series implied the only real treatment for mental disorders was medication, hence, the rise of the hegemony of the Medical Model and the demise of psychology.

 

The second reality was that the field of psychology did not become a field dominated by women as much as it was affected by the law of supply and demand.  Each year during that decade, the schools and universities were pumping out so many graduates that supply exceeded demand.  Under such circumstances, prices fall naturally.  In fact, on average there were 250-400 graduates each year who could not find suitable post doctoral internships in order to obtain licensure!

 

Today, that mismatch continues and it is not advised that anyone enter the field unless they feel a real “calling.”  In fact, one is likely to make more money over one’s lifetime in nursing with an average investment of four (4) years of undergraduate education in comparison to the additional five (5) years of graduate tuition required to achieve a doctorate.  Remember, most people who begin that quest do not finish.

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