Perhaps her teacher was busy mistaking papers

In the diagnosing of mental disorders, if it isn’t this or that, it must be bipolar disorder. According to a press release in FitCommerse.com:

Researchers have recently found that as many as 69% of initial diagnoses of people with bipolar disorder were incorrect, underlining the importance of seeking a second opinion.

This is the era of letting a thousand “mental illness” labels blossom, and so a lot of second opinions are like first opinions–very limited and limiting.

“Accuracy” in the fine art of diagnosing, psychiatrists call it an art, has always been problematic. We don’t have bacterial cultures in petri dishes, or germs under microscope slides, but we do have professional opinions. As an article about Bipolar Statistics on Bipolar-Lives.com website explains.

Other DBSA bipolar disorder statistics from 2000 shows that people with the disorder suffer through as long as 10 years of coping with symptoms before getting diagnosed accurately.

Only 1 person in 4 receives an accurate diagnosis in less than 3 years!

We could spin a roulette wheel to come up with a “proper” diagnosis, but coming up with a diagnosis a patient is alright with, that’s an art. Take this case from Wales, in a silly little BBC piece, Board game aids understanding of bipolar disorder.

Ms [Jocelyn] Duncan’s bipolar disorder was triggered aged eight by a major trauma in her life.

She describes receiving her diagnosis finally at the age of 57 as “one of the best days of my life. I now had a face to my enemy.”

After 49 years Ms Duncan has found a diagnostic label that suits her.

Just in case Ms Duncan doesn’t know what afflicts her, there is a book out there, Bipolar Disorder for Dummies. Should she buy a copy of this book, she can fixate on having this disorder to her heart’s content. She will anyway have gained a good working understanding of her new found identity. It may not fit a pocket, but if she has a convenient niche on a shelf somewhere about the house, it could have found a home. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice for her to know how she should be behaving?

I’m afraid there is no Mental Health for Dummies book out there. Consider the benefits of reading how to achieve mental health over how to acquire a mental disorder. I would think the merits of such a book incalculable. Unfortunately, as both professional human service workers and drug company executives know, mental health doesn’t bring home the bread and bacon, nor does it pay the bills.

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4 Responses

  1. Recently stumbled upon Bipolar Disorder for Dummies myself at the local Barnes and Noble. My friend and I played a game: who can find the meme “mental illness/bipolar disorder is like diabetes” first? Took us about 20 sec. This book is full of assumptions, propaganda, and all the marketing slogans that surround the bipolar label; real information is sadly lacking. Anyone looking to fall hook, line, and sinker, head-over-heels in love with the bipolar disorder label need look no further than this book. If self-pathologizing isn’t your cup of tea, though, this book probably won’t suit.

    Great entry!

    • Thanks, altmentalities. I’ve looked at Bipolar Disorder for Dummies, too, and I had the same reaction. I see the hand of the unholy alliance between the APA, NAMI, and Big Pharma throughout in this volume. The book would give you the idea that there were no other theories and approaches to treatment besides that which is espoused by bio-medical model psychiatry. This simply is not true, is limiting, and completely ignores the possibility of recovery for people in treatment for the bipolar disorder label.

      I’d like to point out that about 95 % of the people in the USA haven’t had a “serious mental illness” label applied to them. Actors and actresses have no problem playing people who have received “serious mental illness” labels. It is my contention that most of the 5 % of the people in treatment (and often on disability), given a little training, would be able to play productive members of society, too, if given the chance to do so.

      Why, one might ask, do so many people in mental health treatment have such a difficult time switching from one simple role into another? I would suggest that it is because they are encouraged to take their “ill” role a little too seriously, and they are also encouraged to think that they are incapable of doing so. Of course, it helps if they are not also chemically disabled by brain numbing pharmaceuticals, and if you’ve got a mental health system that is big on allowing them to tackle the adult adult role, too.

  2. Sadly, many people don’t have the financial wherewithal or the appropriate level of skepticism to seek out a second opinion. And you’re right that the second opinion is probably as entirely worthless as the first. Both opinions hinge on which drug rep passed through the office last and who sponsored the good doctor’s latest CME session.

    Oh, and I hate being a grammar Nazi, but I believe bacterial cultures grow in Petri dishes, and not the peachtree kind.

    • There are few places where a person can get an opinion that wasn’t scripted by the puppets of big pharma. Trust is a big issue, and especially this matter of trusting one’s gut. I support and encourage non-compliance with mental health treatment programs because that is what worked best for me. I’ve known a number of non-survivors who were destroyed by the psychiatric system, and I feel certain that if I’d followed the doctor’s orders you could count me among the casualties of the psychiatry as well.

      Thanks for the spelling correction. My inner teacher must have been working overtime. On an anecdotal note, it’s interesting to consider that the Elizabeth Bishop poem The Man-Moth grew out of a misspelling of Mammoth. I happen to live in the American southland, and here the image of a peachtree dish might be one an industrious crafts person could capitalize on.

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