Sacred Disorder | Cliff Bostock's blog – 'Finally, I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind' (Rimbaud)

Psychiatry: still crazy after all these years

I’ve been a longtime critic of mainstream psychotherapy. You can read several articles I’ve written on the subject on my original site, (click on the “writings” button).

Today I received an email from Christopher Lane, an English professor and author of Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness, alerting me to his column in today’s Los Angeles Free Press. It’s about the latest insanity regarding the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The DSM is the “bible” by which a committee of the American Psychiatric Association classifies mental health disorders. Decisions about what is included in the manual are made in secret, but a former editor of the volume, Robert Spitzer, has called for full transparency in the process.

The reason in part has to do with the way psychiatry seems devoted to turning symptoms into full-blown disorders, whose treatment in turn enriches the profession, along with Big Pharma. Lane mentions a few of the more ludicrous “disorders” being considered for inclusion in the next edition of the DSM:

Hanging in the balance is whether, four years from now, a set of questionable behaviors with names such as “Apathy Disorder,” “Parental Alienation Syndrome,” “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder,” “Compulsive Buying Disorder,” “Internet Addiction” and “Relational Disorder” will be considered full-fledged psychiatric illnesses….

Behind the dispute about transparency is the question of whether the vague, open-ended terms being discussed even come close to describing real psychiatric disorders. To large numbers of experts, apathy, compulsive shopping and parental alienation are symptoms of psychological conflict rather than full-scale mental illnesses in their own right. Also, because so many participants in the process of defining new disorders have ties to pharmaceutical companies, some critics argue that the addition of new disorders to the manual is little more than a pretext for prescribing profitable drugs.

I suggest recognition of another disorder — compulsive pathologizing.

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