Mental illness has been growing by leaps and bounds. Psychiatrist Irwin Savodnik declares,

“The original diagnostic manual [DSM-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] appeared in 1952 and contained 107 diagnoses and 132 pages, by my count.

“…in 1994, the manual exploded to 886 pages and 365 conditions, representing a 340% increase in the number of diseases over 42 years.”

To what does Dr. Savodnik attribute this frightening escalation of mental illness?

“Unlike the rest of medicine, psychiatry diagnoses behavior that society doesn’t like. Yesterday it was homosexuality. Tomorrow it will be homophobia. Someone who declares himself the messiah, who insists that fluorescent lights talk to him or declares that she’s the Virgin Mary, is an example of such behavior. Such people are deemed – labeled, really – sick by psychiatrists, and often they are taken off to hospitals against their will. The “diagnosis” of such “pathological behavior” is based on social, political or aesthetic values.”

Dr. Savodnik states,

“The erosion of personal responsibility is, arguably, the most pernicious* effect of the expansive role psychiatry has come to play in American life.”

Janet Albrechtsen, a conservative Australian opinion columnist from The Australian writes,

“Pathologising people who don’t have real problems is bad enough. Even worse, modern psychiatry is pushing us further towards the medicalisation of crimes where personal responsibility is displaced by an ill-defined mental disorder.” 1

She continues,

“Do you spend a ‘great deal of time’ consumed by sexual fantasies? Using sex to deal with a stressful life? Having too much sex? We might say good luck to you. What is too much sex anyway? The experts know and they call it hypersexual disorder. Hence Tiger Woods was in a medical clinic apparently being cured of his sexual attraction to strippers.

“When you lost someone you loved, did you grieve for longer than deemed normal? DSM 5 wants to medicalise that, too. How does society decide what is normal grieving and what is not? How can experts measure the depth of a love that may explain the intensity of the grief? Death and grief — like life and love — are deeply personal experiences beyond the realm of something called normal behaviour.

“A long period of deep grieving is not a disorder. For most, it’s called life.

“These aren’t just silly labels. There are serious consequences. A small child we would once have called naughty or distracted or disorganised is now sent to experts for treatment. New drugs are produced and prescribed. Governments hand out taxpayers’ money based on recognised disorders.”

Ms. Albrechtsen’s words serve to remind us that the over prescribing drugs and the labeling of normal behavior as psychiatric disorders is a world-wide scourge.

Resources:

1. http://psychiatricnews.wordpress.com/2010/03/03/diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-of-mental-disorders/

*Having a harmful effect, esp. in a gradual or subtle way- Online Merriam Webster Dictionary