If the bible your profession goes by is "silly" and "worrying and dangerous," how valuable is the service you provide?
Millions of healthy people - including shy or defiant children, grieving relatives and people with fetishes - may be wrongly labeled mentally ill by a new international diagnostic manual, specialists said on Thursday.
In a damning analysis of an upcoming revision of the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts said its new categories and "tick-box" diagnosis systems were at best "silly" and at worst "worrying and dangerous."
Some diagnoses - for conditions like "oppositional defiant disorder" and "apathy syndrome" - risk devaluing the seriousness of mental illness and medicalising behaviors most people would consider normal or just mildly eccentric, the experts said.
At the other end of the spectrum, the new DSM, due out next year, could give medical diagnoses for serial rapists and sex abusers - under labels like "paraphilic coercive disorder" - and may allow offenders to escape prison by providing what could be seen as an excuse for their behavior, they added.
If everybody is crazy, nobody is, you know? It's hard to say which is worse in the long run, the silly (treating personality quirks as mental illness) or the worrying and dangerous (giving criminal monsters an excuse), but the overall effect of both is a trivialization of something we can't really afford to trivialize. I've had some people in my life who've had to deal with profound mental illness, and it's one of the toughest rows to hoe there is. The last thing in the world they need is anything "devaluing the seriousness of mental illness." They already have too much trouble getting people around them to understand and accept what's happening to them.
Psychiatry is still a very soft science (or still an art, however you prefer), but at least they now treat those with mental illness as people.