Shyness and Grieving Will be ‘Mental Illnesses’
Millions of healthy people - including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes - may soon be labeled mentally ill, by a pending new edition of a diagnostic manual that's due out next year.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association, and it has descriptions, symptoms and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It is used internationally and is viewed as the diagnostic "bible" for mental health medicine.
More than 11,000 health professionals have already signed a petition (at dsm5-reform.com) calling for the development of the fifth edition of the manual to be halted and re-thought.
"The proposed revision to DSM ... will exacerbate the problems that result from trying to fit a medical, diagnostic system to problems that just don't fit nicely into those boxes," said Peter Kinderman, of Liverpool University's Institute of Psychology.
Kinderman says the new edition "will pathologise a wide range of problems which should never be thought of as mental illnesses ... Many people who are shy, bereaved, eccentric, or have unconventional romantic lives will suddenly find themselves labeled as mentally ill."
At the other end of the spectrum, experts say the new DSM could be a "get out of jail free card" for serial rapists and sex abusers - under new labels like "paraphilic coercive disorder". That could allow offenders to escape punishment by providing a medical excuse for their crimes.
Other potentially problematic new diagnoses in the new DSM include "gambling disorder" and "internet addiction disorder".
Then there is something labeled "oppositional defiant disorder". That's a condition in which a child "actively refuses to comply with the majority's requests" and "performs deliberate actions to annoy others."
If that diagnosis stays in the new DSM, millions of healthy, energetic, active and rambunctious children would become "mentally ill" overnight, and they would be treated with powerful behavior modification drugs they don't need.