It’s just over a month until the UK general election and many Brits seem to have lost trust in their traditional politicos. Whether it’s the UK Independence Party (UKIP) scapegoating the European Union and immigrants, a rise in nationalism (the Scottish National party), or Russell Brand’s teenage anarchism, faith in facile, and sometimes ugly, solutions is on the march. It’s a huge relief, therefore, to hear that the editors of the DSM (the main reference book for psychiatric classification), are considering a new category of disorder to cover this condition. Clearly many critical things have been said about the burgeoning amount of psychiatric diagnosis, here and elsewhere. However, I’ve just looked at the DSM draft entry (reproduced below), and think that this time, the American Psychiatric Association might really be onto something. In fact, all I can say is bring it on.
The British Psychological Society’s report ‘Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia’ has challenged many commonly held beliefs about serious mental health problems. While the report has been widely welcomed, it has also prompted questions, particularly focusing on the report’s key recommendation that we move beyond seeing distress as a symptom of disease:
The Time to Change campaign is the biggest mental health stigma busting campaign in the UK, receiving an estimated £21 million between 2007 and 2011. Given this level of investment I would hope it made significant differences to stigma surrounding mental health problems. The truth is that it hasn’t, and in some areas of stigma, prejudice has increased.
Psychiatrist Glen Simblett reflects on what DSM diagnosis might mean in the consulting room and offers the unusual metaphor of dance to think about how we might best help people.
The first time I told someone about my bipolar label, it was an agonisingly big deal. I rehearsed and thought it through carefully. Finally, using the language of the times, I declared my manic depressive ‘otherness’ to a friend. I was met with a hug, some questions and reassurance. It makes no difference to those who hold you with affection. But other situations can get tricky. Do you spill the beans on a first date and if so, how? Or do you wait until it’s serious and then cope with the feelings of betrayal and humiliation that arise? Do you tell before you meet his parents, or wait until the night before you move in?