The Universe As I See It: Psychology vs. Normalcy
Posted by Universal Shift
Things keep getting crazier in Normal Land. Today, an article about “Almost Alcoholism” came out. The article outlines the new DSM Spectrum for Alcoholism. Now, you don’t have to be a full-blown alcoholic to be diagnosed. Nope. A few extra drinks a day and a case of mild depression can qualify you. I’m seeing many more “Almost Disorders” on the horizon. Almost Schizophrenia, Almost Narcissism, Almost Depression, Almost Bi-Polar. Wow! Just imagine the expanded horizons! Think of all the new drugs we’ll be prescribed! Now we can all be New World Zombies. Almost paranoid? Maybe you should be.
In college and grad school I was a psychology major. I was drawn to the whole idea of helping people work through their problems and connect with their inner selves. Needless to say, after years of filling my head with psychobabble, I became disenchanted. It started with the DSM, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders. This is the psychiatrist’s and psychologist’s bible, for those of you who might be unaware. They use it to diagnose EVERYTHING. Every verdict that gets someone put into an institution or strung out on prescription medication comes from the DSM.
Without going into too much detail, the DSM is broken into categories and each category has its own lists of disorders. The disorders, in turn, have their own list of symptoms (usually around 8). Most of the symptoms are broad over-generalizations. In order to diagnose someone with a disorder, they have to meet 5 out of the 8 criteria. The problem is, you can literally diagnose anyone with almost any disorder. Meaning that everybody is screwed up (or so you’d be led to believe). Which, if you think about it, is really a masterstroke of marketing. That’s right, now we’re all crazy and in need of Holy Psychology’s Sacrament of pills in order to sooth our suffering.
Granted, there are people so detached from reality that they can’t function in society. Drugs help in that they make these people manageable. They don’t cure anything, they just stone the patients out enough so they can be led around as amicable as sheep by Big Pharma. Essentially, drugs mask the symptoms they don’t elucidate a cure. And therein lies the biggest problem. I’m not sure psychology has actually cured anybody of anything. But psychologists and psychiatrists sure do obsessively categorize every little deviation from their preconceived “norm” like they possess the wisdom of Solomon. And I do mean “every little deviation” even going so far as to ascribe perfectly natural process to mental disorders. Did you know PMS is considered a mental disorder? That’s right women. Psychology says you all go crazy once a month. Oh, they added Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to the whole thing just in case anybody slipped through the cracks.
“The DSM-IV criteria for PMDD state that symptoms must be sufficiently serious to interfere with a woman’s work, social activities, and interpersonal relationships. Signs of psychosocial impairment include marital discord, parenting difficulties, poor work performance, and increased social isolation. Women who only experience severe physical symptoms of PMS without accompanying mood symptoms do not meet the criteria for PMDD, even though they also may experience psychosocial impairment.” Source
And in the field of Psychology’s newest attack on normalcy we have grief. What’s that you say? How is grief a mental disorder? Well it shares many of the same symptoms as depression. I know, I know, that’s odd. Grieving people shouldn’t be depressed. They should have no emotional connection to themselves whatsoever. As it stands in the DSM, grief (less than two months) is seen as normal. Anything over that is classified as “bereavement exclusion” and is fair game for medication. But that’s not enough over-classification for the eggheads in the think tanks. Grief itself needs to be classified as a disorder so medication can be prescribed within weeks instead of months. I don’t see how you can work through grief if you’re medicated to suppress those negative emotions. Neither does this guy:
“But critics fear that those experiencing completely expectable symptoms of grief would be labelled mentally “sick.” Dr. Allen Frances says the proposal would pathologize a normal human emotion and could bring on even wider prescribing of mood-altering pills.” Source
Oh, well that makes sense. Honestly, who wants to wait for months to start someone on their decent into social zombie-ism? Then again, who wants to wait for something like grief to come along to begin the process at all? Surely there are other abnormal human behaviors to label and manufacture pills for treatment. What about…shyness! That’s weird and abnormal, right? Have you ever gotten nervous getting up in front of a crowd? Gotten embarrassed at a party? No worries oddball, there’s a pill for that now.
I know it seems like a more natural process to work through these issues yourself (building character, resolve and courage along the way), but trust the shrinks, it’s not a natural process. As a matter of fact, it’s as unnatural, as say, grief or PMS and needs to be promptly medicated.
I’m wondering how you medicate people for shyness anyway? Give them speed?
Ask the moms from Toddlers and Tiaras and they’ll give you their homemade remedy for shyness: energy drink concoctions. I’m telling you honey boo boo chil’, ain’t nothin’ take away the jitters like Green Juice!
Horrifying right? How dare those moms give their children mood-altering potions to control their behavior? Only monsters would unnecessarily medicate children.
I’ve seen the effects of this first hand when I was working in the classroom. The crazy thing is that all these drugs don’t seem to be making anybody better. If anything, more and more people are “needing” them for the craziest things. Like restless leg syndrome. Or one of my favorites, the anti-depressants that jump start the anti-depressants the patient is already taking (after they quit working). It’s a wicked cycle. A very profitable, wicked cycle. And the saddest part is, many people are being convinced of the validity of all this insanity.
Meanwhile, Drugs have certainly become the easiest and most often utilized solution. All these pills really aren’t curing anything. You wouldn’t take an anti-depressant and be cured from depression like taking an antibiotic cures infections. In fact, two of the serious side effects of anti-depressants are depression and suicidal thoughts. How’s that for paradox? The best prescription drugs can offer is to allow some people to function within society. But even this limited benefit comes with a cost.
“Telling people they have got a medical problem that needs treatment means often people will feel both stigmatised by that diagnosis, and then reliant on the drugs they are given.” Source
This can’t be the answer to all our problems…can it?
About Universal ShiftI am the Sonata Unusual. I coat myself with some obtuse angle too far below zero to become any warmer. I create motivation, activate schemas, moisten gardens with scents of natural honeydew. Construct this meaning, you sleepy flock. Silence your singing—despairing contortions out of tune. Shatter the brittle butterfly glass with your hideous wailing. I am born of my god’s imagination. When I die I shall meet him. For there are many things to discuss over tea…or scotch.
Posted on February 11, 2012, in Author, Philosophy, writing and tagged Antidepressants, drugs, DSM, Grief, Medication, Pharmacy, PMDD, PMS, psychiatry, Psychology, Shyness. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.