You are now ill…

BMJ | Too many labelsYou may well have seen much in the press about DSM-5, which was released last week. A previous post highlighted concerns voiced by Allen Frances about the path that DSM-5 was taking. Frances was the chair of the task force that was responsible for DSM-IV. The controversy around the new classification was the lead in last week’s BMJ and has refocussed discussion on how psychiatric diagnoses are made, the role of psychiatry and the relationship that classificatory authorities have with Big Pharma. Frances has just published a book, “Saving Normal” in which he addresses both ‘normalacy’ and the role of Big Pharma in pathologising diversity. To quote him,

“With an assist from an overly ambitious psychiatry, all human difference is being transmuted into chemical imbalance meant to be treated with a handy pill. Turning difference into illness was among the great strokes of marketing genius accomplished in our time.

All the great characters in myths, novels, and plays have endured the test of time precisely because they drift so colorfully away from the mean. Do we really want to put Oedipus on the couch, give Hamlet a quick course of behavior therapy, start Lear on antipsychotics?”

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