In: Uncategorized

26 Jul 2009

The way things are going it looks like it will not be long before virtually everyone is defined as mentally ill. If you think this is an exaggeration you should read this article by Christopher Lane in Slate. He points out that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is seriously considering classifying shopping, among other everyday activities, as a sign of mental illness:

“The fifth edition of the association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is expected in 2012. The APA isn’t just deciding the fate of shopaholics; it’s also debating whether overuse of the Internet, “excessive” sexual activity, apathy, and even prolonged bitterness should be viewed, quite seriously, as brain “disorders.” If you spend hours online, have sex more frequently than aging psychiatrists, and moan incessantly that the federal government can’t account for all its TARP funds, take heed: You may soon be classed among the 48 million Americans the APA already considers mentally ill.”

Since the diagnostic manual Lane refers to in effect sets the global standard for defining psychiatric disorders the widening of the definition does not just affect Americans.

For more on the broadening of the definition of mental illness see my review of Oliver James on “affluenza” on the left hand side of the homepage. Also read Helene Guldberg’s review in spiked of Christopher Lane’s most recent book (see post of 24 December 2007).