I just read about a briefing conducted by some mental health experts on July 27, 2010 which I found quite disturbing. Apparently when the new 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the so-called Bible of mental health disorders, which clinicians use to help them categorize and diagnose mental disorders, comes out in 2013 there are so many newly proposed disorders (Toddler tantrums are a disorder? Really?) that these experts are in fear that soon no one will be "normal" anymore.
Some of the proposed additions - which include "mild anxiety depression," "psychosis risk syndrome," "temper dysregulation syndrome", and, yes, "toddler tantrums" - have the experts in fear that soon we will all have some sort of mental disorder. "It's leaking into normality," said Til Wykkes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. "Its is shrinking the pool of what is normal to a puddle."
In a joint statement, Wykkes and colleagues Felicity Callard, also of Kings' Institute of Psychiatry and Nick Craddock of Cardiff University's department of psychological medicine and neurology, said many in the psychiatric community are concerned about the widening guidelines. "Technically, with the classification of so many new disorders, we will all have disorders," they wrote.
The scientists also pointed to the current edition of the manual, the DSM-IV, citing how broadening of the definitions of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and childhood bipolar disorders had "contributed to false epidemics" of these conditions, especially in the U.S.
"During the last decade," read the statement, "how many doctors were harangued by worried parents into giving drugs like Ritalin to children who didn't really need it?"
If you'd like to learn more about this issue, Wykkes and Callard published a comment in The Journal of Mental Health, which expresses the essence of their concerns, as well as highlighting another 10 papers in the same journal from scientists with similar concerns.
What do you think about this issue? Are we at risk of turning normal into a disease? What is normal anyway?