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.
I am excited. Almost as excited as I was the day the Berlin wall fell or Nelson Mandela was released from jail. For me, the current debate around the utility of the DSM5 and psychiatric diagnosis feels that big. It feels that big because I have been personally touched by a madness from which I was told I would never recover. My only sibling has likewise lived in the shadows of diagnosis, similarly labelled and without any real hope for much of his life. I was labelled bipolar 1 and he as schizophrenic. Of the two labels, I must confess to preferring mine. Bipolar is somehow a bit sexier than is schizophrenia – in these days of celebrity confession, anyway.
Psychiatric labels can be both helpful and confusing. In the light of the current DSM debate, guest blogger Fay Thomas writes about her struggle to hold onto a normal response to personal grief having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder some years ago.
‘Are you suicidal?’ asked the doctor, peering at me kindly as she offered tissues for my tears. I wanted to answer truthfully, but it felt difficult. I hoped the answer was no, because I would not have done anything to harm myself, but my mind was full of dark thoughts. So I answered no, which seemed dishonest, especially since I had failed to tell her my history.
We are pleased to have our first guest post. In this entry Peter Kinderman writes about the role of psychologists and makes a plea for social engagement.