Is anybody normal anymore? -

Is anybody normal anymore?

Under new mental health guidelines, virtually everybody has a disorder


Mental health experts are warning that an updated version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which helps doctors diagnose mental illness, could mean that virtually nobody is classified as normal. Set to be published in 2013, the new DSM might include diagnoses for “disorders” like toddler tantrums and binge eating, resulting in people previously seen as healthy being told they are ill. “Technically, with the classification of so many new disorders, we will all have disorders,” experts said in a joint statement. “This may lead to the belief that many more of us ‘need’ drugs to treat our ‘conditions’ — (and) many of these drugs will have unpleasant or dangerous side effects.” They cited examples of new additions like “mild anxiety depression,” “psychosis risk syndrome,” and “temper dysregulation disorder.”


Filed under:

Is anybody normal anymore?

  1. I think there is a lot of BS happening here! I would think we should take a look at the Mental State of those who deam up these new "Disorders"! Give me a bloody break!

  2. At some point in their lives every person experiences some form of mental illness. It's called existing as a human being. We don't need a constant stream of new pharmaceuticals to try to "fix" every little quirk or phase. Heh, though not entirely related, this suddenly reminds me of one of my favourite lines from Wayne's World– "they thought I had Mono for a year. Turns out I was just really bored."

    • The problem is that having to take a pill is not a fix, since you need to still take it for it to work. As such, I would consider it a band-aid.

  3. It's been politically correct dogma for decades that bad behaviour is to be blamed on external factors; only in select cases do we acknowledge that poor decisions are the responsibility of the one who makes them.

    For example: many argue that criminal behaviour is largely a consequence of poverty, or systemic prejudice, or inherent psychological problems. Perhaps it is to some extent, but it's also a decision made by the criminal. Yet we treat criminals as people to be separated from society only until they can be rehabilitated – where "rehabilitated" means "we think they won't reoffend", not "we think they've atoned for their crime". We prefer not to think in terms of personal responsibility, in other words.

    The logical consequence of this reduced sense of personal responsibility is that vices and moral failures are attributed to things for which we can't be held responsible: either external circumstances or internal health issues. Thus one gets "temper dysregulation disorder", which many of us would call "a lack of the virtue of self-control", listed as a bodily health problem. I'm sure there are cases where temper issues really are caused by chemical imbalances, but it's also clear that they are often due to a failure on the part of the individual to put in the effort required to master the art of self-restraint. That is anything but abnormal.

    We are creatures with free will, not merely machines whose actions are dictated by solely by biological factors.

    • Or rather, our biological factors are such that there is room for free will. Genes have an influence on all of our behavior, but external factors and our own will determine how and which genes are expressed in many cases, just as external factors and genes shape our will. Especially in terms of human behavior, which by necessity is flexible in which habits and habitual thinking we develop.

      Dualism has a strong influence on our thinking in our culture. A few weeks ago I couldn't get people to accept that all of our behavior has a genetic component, rather than their belief that certain behaviors have a genetic component (such as homosexual behavior) and others do not. Of course, if that were true we'd be immaterial ghosts in a fleshy cell with certain genes overriding the will of the "soul". That of course would be false, given our mind and body has an essential unity.

      • Exactly.

        It's perfectly understandable to debate hylomorphism with those who tend either to the Platonist or the Mechanist extreme, but it's bewildering in our society how people will blithely oscillate from one extreme to the other depending on the behaviour in question and the political fashions of the day.

    • "I'm sure there are cases where temper issues really are caused by chemical imbalances,"

      And that's the problem right there. Some people really are sick, while some other people really make poor choices.

    • Technical issue but the scientific evidence is that free will does not exist.

      • I'll call bull on that.

      • It also depends on what you call free will.

        I mean, we don't have the free will to breathe dairy products or to fly.

        But certainly the understanding of genetics as a blueprint that you mechanistically fulfill to completion is crap. Genetics should be better understood as a plan of attack to ensure your genetic success, a plan that doesn't survive contact with the enemy (the rest of the world). Some parts of your plan are more flexible than others.

        But you have the free will to determine a great deal of your eventual height for pete's sake. Just ask some people who don't eat properly.

        • I mean, we don't have the free will to breathe dairy products or to fly.

          I'm inclined to agree. I once laughed while drinking milk and a bunch came out of my nose. There was little free will involved.

    • This has little to nothing to do with PC, and everything to do with big pharma getting doctors to diagnose what most of us would consider to be within the spectrum of "normal" to be an illness so they can make more money.

      It's happened before – look up the history of the definition of "sexual disfunction", particularly in women. They totally screwed with the data, defining things like not being as lubricated as they used to be as "dysfunction", to make it look like a huge proportion of women had "sexual dysfunction" in order to push more pills like Viagra on women, too.

      I suspect that, as the article suggests, that's exactly what's going on here. I've had anti-depressents pushed on me by hair-brained doctors for all sorts of minor problems, most of which have been solved by changes in lifestyle, diet or taking harmless supplements (most of which were recommended to my by an awesome doctor).

      • Medicine is not only a profession but business (big) as well. They relly on patients (or clients), the more the better.

  4. agreeably any behavior is the result of a thought becoming action such as in cause and effect…there has to be a degree of responsibility of the individual…humans are by nature free mind porocess but feed it nonsense 24 hours a day 365 and 24/7 you have the making of a criminal or other mental disorder or disposition…so one has to in a sense remake or be reborn to reality and the self actualizing deeds words and actions to heal the origin of thought process….get it? got it!

  5. Sounds about par for the course. The only thing I think that won't ever be considered a mental illness is people who think and act like psychologists.

    So everyone take heed. The way to shield yourself from these people is to answer them as you think they would answer themselves. It is after all mostly about whether they find you culturally acceptable that determines whether you have a mental illness.

    • Good Psychologists often have many problems themselves, although I'm sure many would not admit it, especially to a patient. As for people who think like psychologists, they would probably mostly agree although not necessarily with the approach of the DSM in labelling everything.

      No matter what you say though, you will most likely always be wrong in their eyes. So, either care or don't.

      However, there is always enlightenment/mysticism, which exists in most traditions. That, or ego death. Otherwise, sorry, no dice. :)

  6. Being well-ordered and being statistically normal are distinct.

    • That is the best and most concise point on the thread.

    • I suspect being "well-ordered" would in fact be quite far out on one of the tails.

  7. Under new mental health guidelines, virtually everybody has a disorder.

    Purusing some of the recent MacLeans comments threads does leave one with that impression.

  8. Yes, I'm familiar with the physics of Quantum Mechanics, and a devout adherent. However you are misinterpreting the impact of QM on free will.

    Wavefunctions evolve in deterministic fashion, but (a) they are altered whenever they are observed, and (b) they only define probabilities (actually probability densities), not events per se. Ergo, they are not incompatible with free will since (a) events can happen by chance, and (b) the probability density functions of said chance events are collapsed to delta-function certainties when we choose to observe them.

    In fact, it was the old Newtonian model that was incompatible with free will, which is why theologians knew it was wrong before physicists did. In classical mechanics every motion is completely determined by the Lagrangian, from all time and for all time, so every action would have to be predetermined. It was the advent of Quantum Mechanics that reconciled modern physics with the concept of free will.

    • I was fairly sure you had thought about QM but gave the long version just in case. Using the observational argument as you have above requires a convenient (and perhaps natural) selection of the system as the individual in question. In principle however, I can choose a closed room with two individuals as my system. (Open systems are not really well understood at this point) Lets put some food, air, water into the room along with some interesting things to do. Our two individuals, interact, make decisions, mistakes have arguments all while isolated from the outside world. According to SE, the wavefunction that describes everything in that room is completely deterministic and it is only when the room is opened up that the wavefunction is collapsed. This could be years laters, and our two individuals may have long since passed on.

      The inherent problem is that observations occur at discrete points in time, while we presume free will to be continuous. To make it fit, you need continuous observations. However, continuous observations would be inconsistent with lots of results most spectacularly recent research in entanglement and quantum computing.

      I have seen some efforts from the philosophically inclined to modify what I would consider the natural definition of free will but personally it seems like cheating to me.

      • "According to SE, the wavefunction that describes everything in that room is completely deterministic and it is only when the room is opened up that the wavefunction is collapsed."

        No, because the two individuals are observers, and so the wavefunction collapses every time they exercise that role (I am assuming that you mean "human individuals", not cats or some other non-rational creature). If you and I are in adjacent rooms and you do a measurement, the wavefunction of whatever you just measured has collapsed regardless of whether I observe it too. It may take a certain amount of time for me to detect that the wavefunction has collapsed unless I have an entangled particle nearby, but that's another story.

        Continuity has nothing to do with it. Free will is a discrete sum of individual choices, not a continuum.

        "I have seen some efforts from the philosophically inclined to modify what I would consider the natural definition of free will but personally it seems like cheating to me."

        (a) No one here is modifying the concept of free will. It means the ability to choose between two possible outcomes rather than have them be either predetermined by necessity or solely determined by chance. With the role of the observer in QM, neither is true.

        (b) I'm not sure whom you mean by "philosophically inclined". We're discussing a philosophical question from the standpoint of physics. If anything, we both seem to be physics inclined.

        • I understand our differences, you are equating an observer with a conscious being. Agreed, it is an internally consistent viewpoint, but I find it circular. (Free will being one of the characteristics built into the conscious being)

          I personally find the mixing of consciousness with QM problematic and somewhat Ptolemaic. If instead you assume people are biological machines without free will, then you arrive at the conclusion that free will is inconsistent with QM. (Admittedly somewhat circular as well)

          • " If instead you assume people are biological machines without free will, then you arrive at the conclusion that free will is inconsistent with QM."

            …except that we know for a fact that when a human observes something, its wavefunction collapses. It's actually one of two fairly strong indicators in physics of the existence of the mind apart from biological machinery. (the other being the Lucas-Penrose argument)

            In short, not only is modern physics not inconsistent with free will, it supports it.

            For a good outline of all this if you already have some physics background, I recommend "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith" by Barr.

          • I put an instrument into the system, programmed to make a measurement at a specific time and then at a later time remove the instrument. The instrument has a speaker and voice synthesizer. I might believe it was in a superposition of states until I pulled it out, but the instrument will report a single measurement value. (determined by probabilities)

            If I put a child into the system, with a watch and told to make a measurement at a specific time, I will also get a single value, i.e. not a superposition.

            You might believe the child collapsed the wavefunction, while the machine did not but you can't prove it. I might believe the child is in a superposition of states until I speak to her. The fact that the child doesn't perceive that she is in a superposition is no more convincing that the fact that the instrument does not have a record of it.

          • Ok, good point. I have two points to make in return.

            (1) We've at the very least concluded that QM is not evidence against free will. At worst it's neutral.

            (2) As you say, we don't know (and have no way to know) whether the instrument was in a superposition of states before we checked the data. All we know is that after we checked the data, there is one state. Now, you can assume that psi collapsed before you looked at the measurement, but that's an assumption. What is known is that if you don't measure psi it remains indeterminate and that if you do, it resolves into one state. By Ockam's razor, one would tend to conclude that psi collapsed because one examined it, not because of some other unknown thing that happened before one examined it.

  9. I'm old. but clearly remember that 60 years ago my mother jokes that " Everyone in this town is abnormal, except you and me; and sometimes i wonder about you!"

  10. What is normal?

  11. maybe forrest gump was more normal then anyone

  12. Psychiatrists are starting to make Scientologists look sensible.

  13. The new DSM has all this covered; not having a disorder is now a disorder.