Friday, 21 June 2013

Who Decides If You Are Normal? Vital Questions To Be Asked

The publication of the latest DSM manual (Edition V) has caused a storm of controversy. Just in case you do not know, this is the so called bible which is used by psychiatrists and medical staff to diagnose a whole range of mental illnesses and disorders.

The problem is that the net is being cast wider and wider to include every temporary, permanent disorder or mental stability problem. That can include bouts of depression, excitability, distraction, obsessions and of course the great favourite ADHD. It is no longer acceptable to be fidgety, excited, impulsive or even distracted in society. How boring!

According to the DSM V, I am mentally ill!  Let me explain. I have various addictions. For example, I check my email obsessively.  This is no simple obessesive disorder and DSM VI may well include it as a mental disorder. That will mean 90% of the western population and they will all be drugged. That is very disturbing.

Look at how they are defining temper tantrums. They say that of the frequency and the severity are X times, then the child (or adult) may be suffering from DMDD. Now that stands for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.   These temper tantrums are of course abnormal but who is going to define what is normal and what is not?

Let us take another example. Eating. Now according to the DSM V says that if you have eaten far too much, like say, twelve times in the last 90 days, then I am afraid you have an eating disorder!

Do you tend to hoard things like I do? Well, join the club. You, my dear reader ,and I have a hoarding disorder which is described as  ‘persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions regardless of actual value’.  The next time your nearest and dearest claims that an object ‘might come in useful one day’ ring your psychiatrist for an appointment!

Let us be serious for a moment.  Red flags have been raised and one distinguished British body,  the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) which represent 10,000 psychiatrists have called for an end to over diagnosis and especially want the words ‘illness’ and ‘disorders’ removed from the language of diagnosis. That would be a great first step.

Are we becoming a society of normal, boring, entirely predictable people who will behave according to the rule book, every single time? Who decides what is normal?  Why is every mental condition treated with psychotic drugs when there could be other solutions in cases where the severity of the condition really does call for treatment.

I am not saying that mental illness should be ignored. It just needs to be diagnosed and treated in a radically different way.

Now, I have decided not to check my email after writing this post. I will mow the lawn instead. Maybe I will be able to overcome my internet addiction without having to take a mind numbing drug. Hope so!  And what are YOU going to do after reading this post?

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