COMMENTARY | According to the newly revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, you are probably suffering from a mental illness. Millions of normal, healthy people would be wrongly labeled mentally ill if the new international diagnostic manual's checklists are followed.
The DSM is the diagnostic "bible" for mental health medicine. Used internationally, it is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The descriptions, symptoms and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders are referred to by psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health professionals across the board.
This newly revised edition, known as DSM-5, set to be released in May 2013, encompasses a ridiculously wide range of problems, problems that would not normally be thought of as a mental illness such as being shy, bereaved or simply eccentric.
There is even a handy label for disobedient children, "oppositional defiant disorder" or how about "apathy syndrome." If you had recently suffered a loss, perhaps lost a loved one, your low mood would be labeled a depressive illness instead of a normal human reaction.
Just as troubling, nearly anyone could qualify for such specific disorders as Asperger's or PDD-NOS. The wide net this revision casts does not do anyone any real good.
The consequences of this new manual would be widespread. Inappropriate diagnosis and treatment, including drugs, could be offered to those without real cause. The new DSM revision would "radically and recklessly expand the boundaries of psychiatry," said Allen Frances, emeritus professor at Duke University. Frances was chair of the committee that oversaw the previous DSM revision and he is concerned about the resulting, "medicalization of normality, individual difference, and criminality."
Diagnoses for so-called conditions could give people an easy out. If serial rapists and sex abusers had a medically acceptable label such as, "paraphilic coercive disorder" they may be able to provide an adequate excuse, after all, they are mentally ill.
At least the mental health professionals see this expansion as insane. More than 11,000 health professionals have signed a petition to halt the release of this manual. Peter Kinderman, a clinical psychologist and head of Liverpool's Institute of Psychology said, "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.
The seriousness of a true mental illness would be completely devalued and who knows, psychologists and psychiatrists might be considered obsolete if everyone is crazy.