Handbook suggests that deviations from ‘normality’ are disorders

Published on The Washington Post, by George F. Willl, February 28, 2010 (sorry, found only today, but still crazy).

…Life is about to imitate De Vries’s literature, again. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychiatry’s encyclopedia of supposed mental disorders, is being revised. The 16 years since the last revision evidently were prolific in producing new afflictions. The revision may aggravate the confusion of moral categories.

Today’s DSM defines “oppositional defiant disorder” as a pattern of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures.” Symptoms include “often loses temper,” “often deliberately annoys people” or “is often touchy.” DSM omits this symptom: “is a teenager.” 

This DSM defines as “personality disorders” attributes that once were considered character flaws. “Antisocial personality disorder” is “a pervasive pattern of disregard for … the rights of others … callous, cynical … an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal.” “Histrionic personality disorder” is “excessive emotionality and attention-seeking.” “Narcissistic personality disorder” involves “grandiosity, need for admiration … boastful and pretentious.” And so on.

If every character blemish or emotional turbulence is a “disorder” akin to a physical disability, legal accommodations are mandatory. Under federal law, “disabilities” include any “mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”; “mental impairments” include “emotional or mental illness.” So there might be a legal entitlement to be a jerk. (See above, “antisocial personality disorder.”)

The revised DSM reportedly may include “binge eating disorder” and “hypersexual disorder” (”a great deal of time” devoted to “sexual fantasies and urges” and “planning for and engaging in sexual behavior”). Concerning children, there might be “temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria.”

This last categorization illustrates the serious stakes in the categorization of behaviors. Extremely irritable or aggressive children are frequently diagnosed as bipolar and treated with powerful antipsychotic drugs. This can be a damaging mistake if behavioral modification treatment can mitigate the problem.

Another danger is that childhood eccentricities, sometimes inextricable from creativity, might be labeled “disorders” to be “cured.” If 7-year-old Mozart tried composing his concertos today, he might be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and medicated into barren normality.

Furthermore, intellectual chaos can result from medicalizing the assessment of character. Today’s therapeutic ethos, which celebrates curing and disparages judging, expresses the liberal disposition to assume that crime and other problematic behaviors reflect social or biological causation. While this absolves the individual of responsibility, it also strips the individual of personhood and moral dignity … (full text).

Links:

Now independent thinkers are considered diseased by psychiatry, by Ethan A. Huff, May 17, 2010, on Natural News, and same in german: Unglaublich, Unabhängige Denker gelten der Psychiatrie jetzt als krank, von Ethan A. Huff, beim Kopp-Verlag, May 26, 2010;

Recent Updates to Proposed Revisions for DSM-5, on DSM-5 development;

Proposed Draft Revisions to DSM Disorders and Criteria, on DSM-5 development – (Homepage DSM-5 development);

Revision to the bible of psychiatry, DSM, could introduce new mental disorders,Feb. 10, 2010;

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on wikipedia (last modified on 26 May 2010);

Articles on Google about DSM Disorders and Criteria: on Google Scholar, on Google News, and on Google Blogs, mainly this long text: Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder Destroying the World? Posted on May 27, 2010 by Benjamin David Steele, on Marmalade.

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