“Mental Illness” Labeling Has A Future

The line between disability and welfare fraud seems to be growing thinner all the time. One finds oneself chuckling over the disingenous techniques today’s professional panhandlers have developed for faking an injury. How far, one may wonder, we haven’t progressed from absolutely medieval times!

In Point/Counterpoint: Progress V. Politics from the University of Arizona’s statepress.com, the up and coming DSM-V is taken on…again. (Don’t worry; I’m just trying to get this whole boring business out of my system, a little bit at a time, outrage after outrage.)

Question: Are personality quirks turning into disorders?

Asks this author who goes on to question the sense of the book with its continual revisions altogether.

“Strong sentiments will always accompany changes in the diagnosis of mental disorders,” said Barrera, “Mental illness diagnosis is controversial even without changes to the diagnostic system. I am suspicious of claims that the sky is falling, particularly since information up to this point has not been good.”

As I’ve been trying to point out, over-diagnosis is a problem whereever ‘mental illnesses’ are being diagnosed. When the disease is being determined by a checklist of unwanted behaviors rather than by a microscope slide accidents in the conventional sense of the word cannot take place.

One of the largest concerns of such individuals is that the updates could even further inflate America’s daunting rate of psychiatric over-diagnosis through the inclusion of such new disorders as binge eating.

This editorial opinion piece that begins in such a critical fashion, after making a case for scrapping the DSM entirely, ends amazingly by erring on the side of the DSM-V. Binge eating disorder, after all, isn’t exactly Coo Coo for Cocoa Puffs. Or is it?

From a Fort Lauderdale television show, Faces of Fort Lauderdale’s homeless: From one shelter to another, covering people in the homeless community there, we get this:

Amanda Cephus, 26, says being homeless in Fort Lauderdale is “pretty good.” She’s gone from one homeless shelter to another for the last couple of years.

Her aunt kicked her out of the house in 2008, she says. She’s been homeless since then.

When I caught up with her last week she’d just been put into another shelter for 90 days. She said it was a drug addiction program; she said she used to smoke marijuana and take Ecstacy. She’s hoping to get housing and start receiving checks for her disability soon. She says she’s got Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and is bipolar schizophrenic.

Whatever happened to the work ethic????

Oh, I know. If you can say, “I’m a recovering drug addict with ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia”, your future course in life is set, baby! Love them government checks!

The situation wouldn’t be so very sad if there were treatment programs that led to recovery, and job training programs that led to work. There don’t tend to be any such programs. The essential problem here, as I see it, is that our human service workers are more intent on pursuing their own ambitions than they are at seeing that their clients do well. Otherwise, they’d make the obvious connection that you’ve scripted a personal tragedy for somebody, and to have another outcome, you need to change the script that that person carries around with him or her everywhere he or she goes. If there is prejudice in other people’s scripts, those scripts will need revisions as well. In fact, that is where the most important changes have to be made.

Wouldn’t you know it? Some asinine Russ Limbaugh addict has his own addition to make to the DSM-V. Family Security Matters has published an Exclusive: The Airhead Liberal Political Disorder.

On Wednesday, February 10th, the American Psychiatric Association proposed its latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the Association’s official, encyclopedia-like catalogue of psychiatric disorders. The DSM’s certification has enormous consequences for dispensing therapy, insurance payments, future research and peoples’ self-definition. This latest DSM is, however, only a proposal designed to solicit public feedback and after preliminary trials, the final version will be published in 2013. Inclusion or exclusion can be tricky business, often reflecting both shifting politics and social conditions. DSM’s mental illness catalogue once included homosexuality; today, “Internet Addiction” and “lack of sexual interest” are candidates for admission.

Still some of the points the author of this story makes about the DSM are very astute. It has consequences for dispensing therapy—especially when therapy usually means brain damaging health destroying drugs. Also insurance payments, and with public insurance companies like Medi-this and Medi-that, that’s where the taxpayer, Joe Public, foots the bill. Future research—you can just imagine the diseases, non-existent now, that we will be studying in detail in the not so distant future. Concluding with people’s self-definition—he or she introducing him or herself by disorder as in, “Hi, I’m bipolar. What sort of disorder do you have?”

Unfortunately he has to continue.

Despite these labors, opportunities for adjustments remain and this may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity for right thinking people to confront a specific, widespread mental disorder that has long driven us crazy: what I call Airhead Liberalism Political Disorder or ALPD for short. This is not a coherent ideology like Socialism or Marxism. Rather, it is a style of political engagement whose purpose is psychological satisfaction independent of actual of costs or benefits. In a nutshell: if advocating a policy makes me feel good about myself, it’s a good policy. The disorder resembles self-medicating drug addiction where addicts will do anything, no matter how injurious, to achieve transitory “highs.” What especially drives right-thinking people to buy Maalox at Costco or take Valium is that Airhead Liberals sufferers are impervious to reason or evidence, no matter how persuasive.

I’m sure that anybody who wants to, from the other side of the political spectrum, can respond to this kind of thing with a label of their own. He claims, after all, that people with this disorder have driven “us” crazy. Perhaps the DSM-V needs a Reactive Myopic Bigot Disorder, but don’t let me go there. Pulleeeze.

Enough. I should be able to lay off now until preparations for the revisions that will become the DSM-VI begin.

8 Responses

  1. Thirty years ago it was easy to get work. You could get work in a day with just a few phone calls or by walking into places. Just about everyone worked full time except for women with children. If you had a part time job it was usually a second job. Apart from such things as motorcycles, wristwatches, optical equipment and some chemicals just about everything was manufactured in Australia.

    Governments hate having to admit to high unemployment and will do anything to fudge the figures. But since the fact is that there is a shortage of work it’s better for a government to make a certain number of people unemployable. Put them on disability rather than unemployment payments.

    • Unemployment is rampant. The homeless are everywhere. I think I remember stories of hobo jungles, and that kind of thing. We’ve got a ‘tent-city’ here. The media refrains from using the D-word (depression) in favor of the more palatable R-word (recession). This is where a laissez-faire (unplanned) economy will take you. Where the richest fat cat wins, everybody loses.

      All I can say is that they gotta lotta nerve calling this or that person ‘sick’ given the sort of people who are leading all the nations in the world to ruination.

  2. Interesting article and comment. I agree with both. People with real mental disorders must be willing to accept help and actual treatment not just disability checks. My friend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it has not been easy for her. She has accepted treatment and hopes to be back to work soon. I’ve been trying to understand what she is going through so I picked up a memoir called “bipolar bare”. It’s an amazing story of what living with this disorder is like. http://www.bipolarbarebook.com/

    • I figure “real” becomes a relative term when it’s all in the head.

      The DSM-IV has a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale. This scale would gauge how much individuals thought to be “mentally ill” “dysfunction”. There is no scale that I know of for measuring the dysfunction of systems. I don’t think ‘the mental health care’ system would fare very well on such a scale if there was one.

      People can and do recover from ‘serious mental illnesses’.

      “Bipolar disorder” was once thought to be genetic, but after a certain psychiatrist started labeling children labeled with ADHD “bipolar”, the occurance of this “disorder” has sky rocketed. Obviously some environmental factors were involved in this epidemic.

      I don’t have a lot of faith in the bipolar label. Faith describes religion, and I had rather believe in health than I would in disease. I think that’s another label, that given strength, can be parked on a shelf.

      Not only can and do people recover from ‘serious mental illnesses’, but people fully recover from ‘serious mental illnesses’.

      I think it helps to hold people accountable sometimes. I think one of the ways we hold people accountable is by not letting them get away with ‘the mental illness’ excuse. So and so’s disease, like the devil, didn’t make them do it. Will power is will power, and excuses are excuses. People become asymptomatic, or hang onto their senses, by making these kinds of connections.

  3. OK. you’ve gotten some DSM stuff off your chest. I’d recommend that you don’t refer to it again lest you you inadvertantly give the imbeciles an opportunity to spin your arguments to support their credibility. We already know about pharmageddon and medicare billing and all that stuff.

    Stick to arguments that may be quite subtle but are derived from the bleeding obvious. That people are statistically likely to react against bullshitters.

    • I’m tied up tabling on a university campus today, and so it will be a spell before I can post again. The 2013 revisions are abuzz all over the web, and so it’s hard to refrain from making some kind of comment. I’ve got 3 more years of New Years’ resolutions to come through on, for one thing, and so I don’t know how silent I can manage to be on the subject. Nonetheless I’m going to do my best to try to still my keyboarding fingers with regard to the thing. Let me make one last comment before I endeavor to fulfill my vow of silence though. Given wide spread economic collapse, I’m just worried that we might be giving them enough rope to hang everybody.

  4. My friend thinks he is mentally ill because he receives his welfare cheque every month. The act of giving him the cheque confirms to him he IS mentally ill. He is sad? I`m not sure what he is thinking-feeling.
    Removing the mind of|from people with antipsychotics prevents them from work, because to work (in general) you need a brain and motivation (feeling-need) for money. It`s pretty simple.

    • This is what is wrong with the mental health system. It’s not only a break down, illness, or what ever, that one must recover from, it’s also institutionalization. A person may lose friends, family, livilhood, etc.

      Neuroleptic drugs disable the brain. These drugs block receptors of the neuro-transmitter dopamine. Dopamine is thought to be an important ingrediant in human motivation. People on neuroleptic drugs are largely listless, lethargic, and unmotivated. These qualities are also attributed to mental illness. The effects of the drugs are often confused with symptoms of mental illness.

      The drugs may make it difficult for people on them to work, but I think the system is also partly to blame. Rather than allowing people in the system to have only the worst possible jobs available, the system should provide decent employment training and work opportunities, too. Hire people in the system to work in that system, get rid of the ‘mental health professional’, the middle man if you must, and the user/consumer is that much closer to empowerment.

      The biggest problem is the drugs. Neuroleptic drugs can do damage to the brain. Neuroleptic drugs can also destroy one’s health. Neuroleptic drugs actually impede, if they don’t prevent altogether, the process of recovery of one’s wits.

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