We’ve all gone mental, apparently

The new psychiatric “diagnostics bible,” the DSM 5, is about to be released, and it turns out we’re all patients now.

Getting angry is evidence of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. Normal grief points to Major Depressive Disorder.

And that’s not all.

Are you getting — what’s it called again? — right, older, and have you been forgetting things? You must have Minor Neurocognitive Disorder. Do you play World of Warcraft or chess or Angry Birds or pickup sticks for hours on end? You poor thing, you may have an Addiction Disorder.

You have to wonder who’s actually closest to suffering from a mental defect here, the people who have these “symptoms,” or the members of the Pharmaceutical-Psychiatric Complex who see disorders (and lucrative new markets!) everywhere they look.

Not everyone is buying the baloney. One expert who pushes back against medicalizing every non-happy emotion known to man is Dr. Allen Frances, the former chair of the DSM-IV Task Force and now professor emeritus at Duke University. His conclusion:

“[Our] experience with previous DSMs teaches that if anything in the diagnostic system can be misused and turned into a fad, it will be. Many millions of people with normal grief, gluttony, distractibility, worries, reactions to stress, the temper tantrums of childhood, the forgetting of old age, and ‘behavioral addictions’ will soon be mislabeled as psychiatrically sick and given inappropriate treatment.”
He’s right, and it’s almost galling enough to give a person Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.


About Rogier:
Rogier is a Dutch-born, New-England-dwelling multi-media maven (OK, a writer and photographer) whose dead-tree publishing credits include the New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Reason.
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  • […] another made-up pathology. The latest version of the U.S. psychiatrists’ manual, the DSM5, is rife with questionable disorders and syndromes. A whole gaggle of shrinks (and the pharmaceutical companies who love them) are never shy about […]