Archive for May, 2013

Saving Normal from DSM-5

May 23, 2013

Saving Normal, by Allen Frances, the psychiatrist who led the task force for the DSM IV,  is a must read. Its subtitle is: An insider’s revolt against out-of-control psychiatric diagnosis, DSM-5, big pharma and the medicalization of ordinary life.

DSM-I, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, was published in 1952 to replace various existing diagnostic classifications at a time when psychiatry was booming after WWII. Now, over 60 years later and 19 years since the DSM-IV was published, we have a 900 page tome in DSM-5, capable of classifying every one of us with a mental disorder. This is the classification used to determine treatment and insurance coverage.

Catchy acronyms like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), or BiPolar (Manic Depressive Disorder) or Alzheimer’s (for all levels of dementia) encourage lay people to diagnose and, with the help of big pharma media advertising, expect their doctors to prescribe a potpourrie of drugs.

Children are being over-diagnosed and given prescribed drugs early on. Many new disorders have been added.  In the future, tantrums will be labeled Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. 100% of kids will qualify for this disorder. The rationale seems to be “get them as kids and have them for life pharmaceutically.”

Policy changes Frances sees that will help are: no more fructose subsidies, no more coke and fries with school lunches, no more streets without sidewalks to discourage walking, restore Phys. Ed. in schools, add calorie counts to menus, subsidize vegetables, lower insurance premiums for losing weight, encourage people to eat less and exercise more.

DSM-5 mislabels medical disorders as mental disorders. Irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, Lyme Disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and more, now carry psychiatric disorder numbers.

Elsewhere in the news, oxycodon is being decried as an abused drug. I’ve observed that small doses given to elderly people for pain often causes them to hallucinate. Because they are elderly, they then risk being pegged with a senile diagnosis and given psychotropics.

Treatment of US service people for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is under fire in the news this week. After 3 or more deployments to participate in the horrors of war, there are reports that the Army is criminalizing PTSD behavior and discharging service people with PTSD instead of court-martialing them if they agree to give up their health benefits. The PTSD diagnosis without treatment makes it difficult for them to get a job, much less resume their personal lives. Is this how we want to recognize and care for our service people?

The rationale of using drugs to correct a chemical imbalance “for the rest of your life” has been abused, not only with psychotropic drugs but with drugs for medical problems. Frances reminds us that Big Tobacco once seemed invincible, yet was taken down so quickly. The same thing can happen with Big Pharma  when we refuse to accept the buffet of pills it promotes that rob us of our health and financial solvency, when we heed Hippocrates’ caution to let our food be our medicine, and when we intentionally give our bodies the exercise we need to keep all systems running smoothly.



Where are the current huddled masses?

May 3, 2013

We’ve come a long way since Emma Lazarus’s poem, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” We now find ourselves singing the songs of the ‘huddled masses’ with our burgeoning prisons and hospitals that reflect the dire circumstances of our minds and bodies.

The American Dream existed when there was still land, a frontier to be explored. Now, as every inch of land is accounted for and up for corporate competition, we are constantly disempowered as individuals and collectively in groups. What happens in Haiti and Africa, India, China, and South America is now happening in the US.

Each week we learn of some corporate plan to destroy a little more of our precious land. We are bounced from project to project: Tar Sands, Northern Pass, Poland Spring, Coos County Wind Project, or Iberdrola’s massive wind farm projects fingering their way through Grafton County. We end up paying taxes to support our legislative system and then having to fork over more time and money to protect the rights our legislators seem so intent on cancelling for us.

Even when we gather to protect some aspect of the environment, we are immediately taken by how quickly our purpose is compounded. Being involved in stopping the Northern Pass involves protecting our forests and our water and then connects us to out-of-control wind projects, the Tar Sands, and….

Climate Change is no longer a theory. Our vanishing glaciers all over the world attest to the reality that we’re getting too warm. Significantly, our scientists affirm that if we act now, we can slow the process of climate change. We can make certain that the lives of our offspring will be livable.

The environment must not be sacrificed for corporate profits. Our forests are the sacred grounds we need to breathe, to connect with the ground of our being, and to remind us that the earth is to be revered and shared with all species if  any of us are to thrive.

One way to join the effort to stop predatory exploitation of our forests is to add your name to the link below.