Monday, July 14, 2008

Diagnosis Du Jour

I read really REALLY slowly. Taking years to finish a fiction is not out of the question. I write 'b' when I mean 'd', 'p' when I mean 'q', and I cannot remember a phone number to save my life. I am certifiably dyslexic; that is I have a certificate that states I am dyslexic. Most everyone in my world knows this as it conveniently excuses my horrific spelling skills. But, I'm rethinking about sharing that information with people, why, because inevitably the individual will claim s/he is dyslexic as well. I don’t need sympathy. Actually, I fibbed, sympathy is nice; after all, I do have a learning disability. However, I don’t care for comments like, “Oh my god, me too me too. I take forever to read something. Oh, and I’m really bad in math.” Sorry, that does not qualify you as a dyslexic.

Believing one possesses some dyslexic symptoms is quite harmless really. What I find odd however is when people casually claim they or those they know have other types of serious clinical mental illness or disability. These armchair psychologists, as I like to call them, throw around words like paranoid, schizophrenia, pathological,…as if they know what it all means. But, just because you swear like a sailor does not mean you have turrets. Shit, I’d have a hardcore case of turrets if that were true. A breakup does not automatically result in depression. You may just be a moody @#$%^! and still not have bi-polarism. Thinking your girlfriend is cheating on you does not make you paranoid. And enjoying sex, a lot of it, does not warrant the sex maniac label. Still, armchair psychiatrists use clinical terminology as casually as asking about the weather. Where are they getting these terms in the first place?

Armchair psychiatrists are only guilty of mimicking their licensed counterparts. The official psychiatrists base their (often) bogus diagnoses on current theoretical findings that may or may not have been scientifically well proven over time. I say this because it’s clear to me theory, like fashion, is trendy. Consequently we have the diagnosis du jour. If you had issues in the late 1980s and early 1990s, you were depressed and needed the "happy pill", Prozac. If you showed skillful multitasking but was focused challenged in the 1990s it was because of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADD-ADHD (in children and adults). The 21st century also supplied a slew of diagnoses. Real biatches relied on the Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to explain away their bad behavior. Those who felt their family life was a war zone could argue they had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Autism has become a slippery umbrella term to represent a gamut of issues afflicting child development but still has no clear meaning. The latest trend is if you have trust issues you could be experiencing Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), an outcome of never bonding with your caregiver at the earlier stages of development.

I don’t mean to belittle any of the diagnosis above. Some people have real mental and emotions conditions that should be addressed through therapy and/or medication. I do however have concerns when the myriad of fashionable clinical terms get doled out at the rate of condoms at a gay pride parade. Doing so could arguably: diminish the value of the diagnosis itself; undermine those with real afflictions; and put many in a state of panic for fear they have serious medical issues.

It’s generally agreed that stigma against mental illness and other disabilities have waned over the years. This is a good thing. However, when certain diagnoses gain in popularity because psychiatrists over diagnose, that’s not a good thing. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd venture to say the pharmaceutical industry has something to do with that. Trendy psychiatrists with big egos may be another reason.

This is but a cautionary message in hopes of preventing thinking individuals from mislabeling others and also ask one to stand up to misdiagnoses.

1 comment:

tablarasta said...

This is a great article. There are a lot of people who have real and serious problems. The self diagnosing "expert", those looking for excuses, and those who just want attention ("oh me too" - can you imagine anything more retarded than a wannabe for mental illness or learning disabilities?) simply water down and detract from the real weight of problems that do afflict many people.