An update is apparently due of the 1994 edition of the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders", the psychiatrists' bible that allows them to tick-box their patients into a disorder, and then, no doubt, prescribe Big Pharma industry drugs or an expensive form of therapy. Anyone who has ever watched Adam Curtis's excellent "Century of Self" will be aware of the pathologising of society to the benefit of the psychiatric professions and far beyond.
I am not making light of serious mental illnesses requiring specialised and long term treatment such as bipolar, schizophrenia or chronic depression. These are crippling and soul-destroying conditions and many families, including my own, have been touched by them.
But I am concerned by the appalling Pharma-creep that has been going on over the last few decades where, for example, increasing numbers of children are labeled with ADHD and ladled full of Ritalin (which can also lead to a thriving black market in the onward sale of said drug). And we are apparently about to see ever more divaricating disorders added to the shrinks' bible.
As this recent article in The Independent states, stroppy teens will now have "oppositional defiance disorder", and adults who think of sex more than every 20 minutes are suffering from "hypersexual disorder". (How on earth will this be diagnosed – will potential sufferers have to keep a thought crime diary as they go about their daily lives? Management meetings could be so much more diverting as people break off to write an update every so often – although they might have to pretend they're playing buzzword bingo.) And those suffering from shyness or loneliness will suffer from "dysthymia". Well, as a classicist, I'm glad to see that ancient Greek still has a role to play in today's lexicon.
I know that such behavioural traits can be debilitating, but to pathologise them seems rather extreme – enough to give a person a complex…..
On another somewhat facetious note I was intrigued to see this doing the internet rounds recently. It appeared to suggest that having a robust distrust of your government was also about to be pathologised as Anti-Government Phobia, which I presume would mean that vast swathes of the world's population were mentally ill. However, I think the clue to the legitimacy of the piece was in the name of the supposed author: Ivor E. Tower MD…..
However, back to the point of this article. This was the paragraph in the Indie report that really got my goat:
"More worrying, according to some experts, are attempts to redefine crimes as illnesses, such as "paraphilic coercive disorder", applied to men engaged in sexual relationships involving the use of force. They are more commonly known as rapists."
So it appears that crime will now be explained away as a disorder.
But, but, but…. the key point LEAPing out at me, if you'll forgive the clumsy link, is that this seems to be in direct, sharp contrast to how we deal with an immense and ongoing problem in the world today: namely the 50 year old failed "war on drugs". In this phoney war millions of people across the world have been, and against all expert advice, continue to be treated as criminals rather than as patients.
Rather than rehash (sorry) all the well-known articles about why this war is such a failure on every conceivable front, let me just make three key points: prohibition will always fail (as this classic "Yes Minister" scene depicts), and the regulation and taxation of recreational drugs (in the same way as alcohol and tobacco) would be good for society and for the economy; it would decapitate organised crime and, in some cases, the funding of terrorism; and, most pertinently for the purposes of this article, it would make the use and possible abuse of recreational drugs a health issue rather than a criminal matter.
Many people at some point in their lives experiment with drugs such as dope, E, coke, or whatever and have fun doing so, just as many like to have a drink to unwind after work. A small percentage will go on to develop medical problems.
That is the crux of the argument here. Excessive abuse of drugs, both licit and illicit, is manifestly a health issue and yet some people are criminalised. Compare and contrast the proposed new shrinks' bible, where what were formerly deemed to be crimes will now be seen as medical disorders.
I would call this rank hypocrisy, but perhaps the shrinks can come up with a more high-brow name? I propose Societal DoubleThink Disorder.
The Bankers' Bonus being that it would conveniently (psycho)pathologise all our "peace-speaking" war-mongering politicians, "free market" monopolistic big businesses, and "publicly owned but private profit" banks.
Praise the Government and pass the Ritalin….