Friday, March 23, 2012

Psychiatrists Have Finally Lost It - Nearly Everything's Now a 'Disorder'!

Here's the problem with highly subjective sciences like economics and psychology: they are too much subject to the vagaries of the current 'flavor of the month' and also to the intrusion of politics resulting in degradation of quality. This is why I never even remotely considered a career in either, too "floppy", "squishy" and difficult to pin down. Give me physics every time, because at least the motions of a pendulum can be quantified as well as the motions of planets. Thus the motion of the first can be determined as being simple harmonic or not, while the latter's orbit can be determined to be elliptic, or circular.

This has come to the fore once again as we learn (TIME, March 19, p. 42) that the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-V), the "bible" of modern psychiatric practice, is on the verge of a monstrous diagnostic inflation. By that I mean adding hundreds of new disorders to the existing DSM list, which of course translates into more money for insurance companies (even at a time we're trying to cut medical costs) as well as new brands of meds to treat all the new disorders - a likely bonanza for Big PhrMa.

In physics, at least, experimental measurements determine whether a claim is valid or not. For example, the claim of faster than light neutrinos by a research group at CERN last year, has now pretty well been shown to be false, e.g.

Even before those later tests were conducted, for which a confirmation failed, application of special relativity considerations disclosed that to achieve FTL levels a mass would need to be imaginary. This alone lent suspicion to the original CERN claim.

Even at a simpler level, say for classical mechanical systems, measurements performed can quickly determine whether a system, say a pendulum, is non-holonomic or holonomic. In the latter case we expect the configuration to be entirely describable from the coordinates (x, y, z) and not all dependent on velocities.

But alas, no such clarity resides in psychology-psychiatry! Moreover, unlike a holonomic system in physics, what the eggheads of the American Psychiatric Association declare will have immediate impacts on citizens and taxpayers. For example, a DSM classification can determine if symptoms are unpleasant or signs of real disease. If the latter, one may well become unemployable - if an employer rifles through your records - or you may have to receive treatment that includes expensive meds in order to be declared cured. Furthermore, these mental health issues can determine whether or how much insurance will pay for any prescribed treatments...or meds.

As an example, the new definition and classification for depression would eliminate any exceptions for grief or bereavement (ibid.), say after a parent's death - such as my dad's in 2009. In effect, anyone found to be exhibiting symptoms of mourning or grief would then be diagnosed with a mental illness, in this case depression - and have meds prescribed such as Paxil, Zoloft or whatnot. Hence, the emotions once regarded as normal after the death of a spouse or parent, would now become pathological symptoms!

Note again, this determination has not been based on ANY objectively measurable standard, say like a noteable deviation in a PET (positron emission tomography) scan, but essentially on subjective votes or inputs. Dr. X writes into the APA site and affirms we need to treat grief after a spouse's death as a mental disorder, and so it is. Ten thousand more support Dr. X and the disorder finds its way into the DSM.

As the TIME piece notes (ibid.):

"What DSM 5 almost certainly will do is help APA members to bill insurance companies for more conditions."

So just imagine how many of these characters will now get super rich, even as our health care costs as percentage of GDP explode.

What else is under consideration for "pathologization"? Evidently, over-eating (if you eat a whole pizza you are likely mentally disordered as opposed to consuming 1-2 pieces) and in any case feeling uncomfortably full after. If you therefore consistently go to buffets, whether in Vegas or to Country Buffet for your meals - you are more likely to be classed as mentally disordered because people frequenting those venues are more likely to eat past merely being full.

Sex addiction is also under consideration for inclusion in the mental disorders, and these will be called "hyper-sexual disorder". It would fit, for example, any guy who watches so much internet porn that he's unable to satisfy his wife- who may then report him to the Psych police for mental evaluation. Who knows what meds they will prescribe, as they haven't decided yet. Guys who look at porn at work and fail to meet production quotas can also be classified under this mental disorder, and their employers may well demand treatment - maybe electro-shock several times a week in addition to meds.

Internet addiction, meanwhile, is being examined in terms of inclusion but no consensus yet exists on how many hours a day of net time qualifies. Some say 10, others 15 or more. Be assured, though, the way diagnostic inflation is going, the next DSM will include it.

Mind yourself in the meantime, and make damned sure no one sees you overeating at Applebee's or staring at porn, or crying if a loved one dies. You will then be entered into the annals of mental pathology and your credit score is likely to be affected as well!

No comments: