The DSM-I is currently viewed as a psychoanalytic classification, and therefore unimportant. There are four reasons to challenge the belief that DSM-I was a psychoanalytic system. First, psychoanalysts were a minority on the committee that created DSM-I. Second, psychoanalysts of the time did not use DSM-I. Third, DSM-I was as infused with Kraepelinian concepts as it was with psychoanalytic concepts. Fourth, contemporary writers who commented on DSM-I did not perceive it as psychoanalytic. The first edition of the DSM arose from a blending of concepts from the Statistical Manual for the Use of Hospitals of Mental Diseases, the military psychiatric classifications developed during World War II, and the International Classification of Diseases (6th edition). As a consensual, clinically oriented classification, DSM-I was popular, leading to 20 printings and international recognition. From the perspective inherent in this paper, the continuities between classifications from the first half of the 20th century and the systems developed in the second half (e.g. DSM-III to DSM-5) become more visible.