The Crazy Years
We're all crazy now:
In May, the American Psychiatric Association will publish the latest edition of its diagnostic manual, known as DSM-5. Changes to the text approved in December mean, for example, that some people grieving after a bereavement could soon be diagnosed with depression. And Asperger's syndrome is to be subsumed into autism spectrum disorder.Medical policy based on criteria isn't always a good thing...
That change is likely to decrease the number of children diagnosed with some form of autism, because not all those who might have been diagnosed with Asperger's would meet autism criteria. But overall, critics fear an expansion of the boundaries of mental illness. "The phrase I use is the 'sickening of society'," says Frank Farley of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of the organisers of a petition that tried unsuccessfully to open DSM-5 up to wider scientific review.
Some 20 per cent of US citizens have experienced a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. How this figure will now change is unclear - for the most part the implications for rates of diagnosis haven't been studied.