Personality Disorders: Who Can Decide What is Normal?

by | Sep 26, 2011

Personality disorders, mental disorders and mental illnesses are all terms to designate some kind of supposed abnormal behavior that needs to be treated. At least, that is what a psychiatrist would say. But who is to say what is normal and what constitutes a so-called disorder?

In daily life, we all observe other people doing what we consider weird or abnormal things, whether at work, school or while out and about. Our opinions are based on what we collectively agree is normal and that can vary from culture to culture, within any age group, religion, race, class, etc. For example, the way you dress and act can be normal and welcomed among your peers but shunned by everyone else. Ask any teenager. But is something totally different from the “norm” necessarily a personality disorder that needs treatment?
Per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (a reference book written by psychiatrists to diagnose patients), personality disorders are a type of mental disorder diagnosed using certain symptoms of behavior as a guideline. If you are a narcissist, a loner or have reckless disregard for the law and rights of others, then those qualify as disorders. There are many different kinds of personality disorders and if your symptoms don’t seem to fall into any one category, then there is one called “Borderline” Personality Disorder to cover all those miscellaneous symptoms as well.
The problem is, these are merely subjective opinions without any scientific evidence to prove they even exist. In conventional medicine there are tests and x-rays and the like to determine what is wrong with you when you don’t feel your best. Those tests will find the cause of your illness because there is something going on in your body that wasn’t happening before. In psychiatry, there are no tests, just opinions. They can’t provide a blood test, urine test, MRI or anything else to show you have a mental disorder. They have theories for sure, but none of them are backed up by any scientific evidence.
Psychiatry has taken behavior and made it into a disease. Judging from the fact that the number of disorders have almost tripled over the years, we are supposedly becoming more and more mentally ill. How does this happen? If there are no regulations as to what constitutes a mental illness, then psychiatrists can make up as many personality disorders as they please.
Medical doctors do not fabricate things like the measles and cancer because these illnesses and many others actually exist in the body shown by legitimate tests. On the other hand, psychiatry just votes on the latest personality disorders and even occasionally decides to remove something from the DSM.
For example, one of the personality disorders, narcissistic personality disorder, is under consideration right now to be deleted from DSM-5. The newest edition is scheduled to be released in another year or so. In 1968, narcissistic personality disorder was removed from the DSM and reinstated in 1980. Does that mean they made a mistake? They put a disorder in the DSM that wasn’t really a disorder?  Psychiatrists claim disorders are as valid as any medical condition. So, is narcissistic personality disorder real or not? If not, what are they going to tell all those people that have been misdiagnosed and took the medication? If it gets removed again, it certainly further lessens psychiatry’s credibility.
Homosexuality is another example of a disorder that was removed from the DSM.  In the past, being gay was not accepted by the general public for quite awhile and at the same time was consistently thought of as a mental illness by the psychiatric community. Obviously, times have changed and somewhere along the line when gay rights began to grow, homosexuality was removed from the DSM as a disorder. Does that mean that public acceptance is a factor in deciding if a disorder is “real” or not?
Legitimate science does not work this way. There are no surveys or discussions regarding the existence of any medical condition. It’s either there or it’s not. It’s not swayed or slanted by opinions and views. When you get a blood test and it shows a high white cell count, that verifies the existence of an infection. A specific treatment is prescribed to handle the condition. Not so in diagnosing personality disorders, or, in general, within the field of psychiatry.
Before you start taking dangerous mind-altering psychiatric drugs with life threatening side effects, it would be wise to ask for the science to verify the diagnosis of the personality disorder. It doesn’t exist.
Personality disorders are not the only diagnosis that is being questioned. You may also be interested in reading Experts Debunked DSM.
Photo Credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos


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