The DSM is the standard manual used by psychiatrists for the diagnosis of mental disorders. Psychiatry has been subject to several criticisms1. For example the american sociologist Thomas Scheff applied the labeling theory to psychiatry and concluded that certain visions or ideologies have been labeled as deviants, when of course the labeling was made from the point of view and values of the majority. Similarly, Foucault, after an analysis of how attitudes towards those deemed "insane" have changed as a result of changes in social values, has argued that psychiatry has primarily been a tool of social control2.

With these premises it wouldn't surprise me that in some moment veg*ism has been or might be included as or related to a mental trouble. So, does the DSM make any reference to veganism or vegetarianism?


  1. Anti-psychiatry article on Wikipedia
  2. Madness and Civilization on Wikipedia

See also: Labeling theory and Orthorexia

  • 2
    Psychologists may have done some strange things in the past, but I'd be highly surprised if there's anything in the DSM regarding vegetarianism. Also your premises are based on criticisms of psychology as a whole rather than criticisms with the DSM itself, which is a bit of a fallacy and makes your question seem somewhat biased.
    – Pharap
    Mar 25 '17 at 4:25

I only have access to the DSM II and IV to check, but neither mention anything related to it, either veg* or orthorexia. They both make use of the term "vegetative state" but that is the closest result.


Given that (national councils of) dietitians condone vegetarianism as a healthy option I don't see how a psychiatrist could consider it pathological.

I think there are eating disorders, and social disorders, but doubt that vegetarianism can be identified as a symptom of these.

DSM entries that I'm familiar with (e.g. schizophrenia) tend to be of the form, "if you have any three of these nine symptoms then we diagnose such-and-such pathology, but see also this other differential diagnosis".

I don't expect that vegetarianism is a reliable predictor of a diagnosable mental illness.

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