by Dr. Vince Ward
The State


You must be crazy. Psychiatry and Big Pharma say so.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, American psychiatry’s manual of mental illness diagnoses, was published last year. It’s supposed to “revolutionize” diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. If you and I submit passively to it, it probably will.

Also last year, Dr. Allen Frances published a book critiquing the DSM-5, Saving Normal: An insider’s revolt against out-of-control psychiatric diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the medicalization of everyday life. Dr. Frances can’t be ignored; he led the team that wrote DSM-5’s predecessor, the DSM-IV, more than a decade ago.

Why should you care about this? Because no matter who you are, or how “normal” you think you are, DSM-5 could probably diagnose you with a mental illness. Dr. Frances’ concern about “the medicalization of everyday life” is that it diverts precious resources away from those who truly need them to those who don’t, and can rob the latter of their resilience and independence. DSM-5 could redefine our cultural identity, because more and more of us will be defined by its terms.

In a way, however, psychiatry and Big Pharma, self-serving or misguided though they may be, are only giving us what we want. So the real problem is what we want.

In modern America… yearnings have become a sense of entitlement to a comfortable life free of pain and trouble. When they arrive anyway, we feel cheated and victimized, and look for someone to blame and a way to feel better.

Most wisdom and faith traditions suggest something different: Pain and discomfort are inevitable conditions of life, and the preconditions of growth and resilience.

Changing this will be hard, maybe impossible. Ditching discomfort is seductive, and psychiatry and Big Pharma won’t help. It’s up to us.

Dr. Ward is a Columbia psychotherapist. Read the Full Article Here.


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