For those of you that are not familiar, the American Psychiatric Association publishes an extensive compilation of disorders and conditions in a tome called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the Bible of Psychiatry, and is used to diagnose a myriad of psychiatric maladies. It is periodically reviewed for content, and ultimately added to on occasion. The latest edition, the DSM5 is due for publication/release May 2013. Insurance companies will not cover medications that are not included in the DSM for treatment purposes.
Hundreds (possibly thousands) of new disorders will be added to the latest edition. New disorders? Really? Are they sure they’re not just a clever array of craftily allocated names to diagnose an existing plethora of fantastically-named “disorders”? This boggles my mind.
The British Psychological Society had this to say:
[We recommend] a revision of the way mental distress is thought about, starting with recognition of the overwhelming evidence that it is on a spectrum with ‘normal’ experience, and that psychosocial factors such as poverty, unemployment and trauma are the most strongly-evidenced causal factors. Rather than applying preordained diagnostic categories to clinical populations, we believe that any classification system should begin from the bottom up – starting with specific experiences, problems or ‘symptoms’ or ‘complaints’…… We would like to see the base unit of measurement as specific problems (e.g. hearing voices, feelings of anxiety etc)? These would be more helpful too in terms of epidemiology.
While some people find a name or a diagnostic label helpful, our contention is that this helpfulness results from a knowledge that their problems are recognised (in both senses of the word) understood, validated, explained (and explicable) and have some relief. Clients often, unfortunately, find that diagnosis offers only a spurious promise of such benefits. Since – for example – two people with a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ may possess no two symptoms in common, it is difficult to see what communicative benefit is served by using these diagnoses. We believe that a description of a person’s real problems would suffice. Moncrieff and others have shown that diagnostic labels are less useful than a description of a person’s problems for predicting treatment response, so again diagnoses seem positively unhelpful compared to the alternatives.
—British Psychological Society, June 2011, http://www.bps.org.uk/
These additions frighten me in ways I actually find hard to describe. What’s more, it fills me with disgust and a modicum of rage.
Why? If you have a look at some of the existing and newly-added conditions, you’ll find the full spectrum of human emotions have now been classified as conditions worthy of being medicated. Really? No, I’m not kidding! Are you serious? I do admit there are a vast number of legitimate conditions, but calling something a psychiatric condition for the purpose of having a name, defies logic. When did human beings stop understanding their feelings are necessary and important, and in many cases, specific to what they are going through at any given time?
This is particularly scary when “conditions” relating to children are considered. I have to wonder why a parent would accept a diagnosis of some kind of disorder for their child(ren). Outside of actual conditions, many children exhibiting “behaviors” are portraying symptoms of an unhealthy diet. I’m just not sure how a parent goes from: my kid is acting odd, maybe something’s up? (environmental, social, diet); to my kid has a problem, let’s go to the doctor. I’m also curious about where the defining line is that parents cross removing responsibility for the care and health of their child, and relinquishing that responsibility to a doctor with a script. Maybe it’s a form of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, and everyone is nuts? Everyone except the Psychiatrists, of course. Ok, that was facetious, but I know I’m not the only one thinking it.
The psychiatric drugs prescribed for children were never intended to be used on children. They change the chemical composition of the brain, and forever alter who that child could ever have been. I know this from research, study, observing my brother-in-law, as well as observation in class-rooms. Medical professionals claim to know what the medications treat, but they cannot 100% claim to know what they do to the landscape of the brain. Period.
These classifications that define human condition as something to medicate and treat is horrifying, because we all feel. We all have days of melancholy. Our past history is literally filled with examples of literature inspired by it. Without melancholy, there would be no E.A. Poe, Macbeth, Othello, any other tragedy. What were our ancestors and forbears doing that is different from what we’re doing? I believe it’s validation and access to a constructive outlet for their emotion. Can’t we give that option to people today?
But don’t take my word for it, I urge you to exercise extreme caution when a medical professional attempts to label your feelings or your child with a condition. I even urge you to doubt the diagnosis. In fact, I beg you to doubt it. I need to emphatically express that I am not, nor do I, express my concerns to judge people who have taken the advice from medical professionals for assistance with their own or familial struggles. I just plead with you to consider every possible natural cause to explain symptoms, and thereby offer a natural explanation and/or alternative to alleviate what you are experiencing.