Do we all qualify for a mental diagnosis of some sort?
In case you are wondering about all the people around you that you have considered “normal” but now have a psychiatric diagnosis of some sort you are not the only one. All over the world the number of people on disability secondary to a mental diagnosis is increasing. At the same time more and more psychiatrists as well as psychologists are speaking out on the over diagnosis of mental disorders. Dr. Allen Frances, a psychiatrist once dubbed as the most influential psychiatrist in the US and one of the scholars that formed the DMS-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association offering the common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders) that came out in 2000 is one of them. In a hilarious preface to his book “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” that was published in August, 2014 Dr. Frances describes his concerns with the updating of DSM-IV to DSM-5, the newest version of the DSM manual. He goes as far as saying that this latest version “threatens to turn everyday living into psychiatric disease”
The number of disorders has increased
Indeed each edition of the DSM leading up to the DSM-5 has increased the number of disorders. The first one, DSM-I, that came out in 1952 listed 106 disorders. The DSM-III from 1980 listed 265 disorders and the DSM-IV listed 297. There seems to be some debate on the number of disorders listed in the newest version; DSM-5. Some 15 new diagnoses seem to have been added but others revised or taken out leading some sources to declare the total number being less than the 297 listed in the DSM-IV but others that they are over 300.
Psychologists as well as psychiatrists criticize the DSM system
Psychiatrists are not the only ones criticizing the DSM system and Peter Kinderman, a professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool goes as far as to say that we need to abandon the disease model of mental health care and stop medicalizing normal life. In his new book “A Prescription for Psychiatry” he argues that services should be based on the premise that the origins of distress are largely social but not diseases. Thus the role of clinicians should be to support people who are distressed as a result of their life circumstances.
Have we reach an era where normal responses to life’s’ challenges are being diagnosed as illnesses? Should people be diagnosed with depression when they are experiencing sorrow after a loved one has passed away? What about the ones that have been abused or suffered severe trauma? Are they suffering from an illness or are they showing normal response to difficult challenges? Maybe they need help temporarily but should they have to carry a mental diagnosis for the rest of their life? Because that seems to be what happens; once a person is diagnosed with a mental disorder it tends to stick.