by Brian L. Grant, MD
This article in The New York Times importantly describes some of the many problems with the DSM in particular, and medical diagnoses in general. When diagnoses gain power to drive resources and funds, create obligations on the part of others, excuse or justify shortcomings in behaviors and habits, demand more time on tests, and generate billions in drug sales – mischief and misuse follows.
The DSM is a worthwhile effort and useful for psychiatrists in treating patients. But in the hands of the greater society it has become wildly distorted. The power of diagnoses are profound. But psychiatric diagnoses in particular are highly reductionist. They are a cookbook that apply if a patient falls into particular boxes. They do nothing to explain the “why” of the human condition, nor does a particular diagnosis remove the unique humanity that makes each of us different. Pills may address particular symptoms and provide some relief. But they will never alter fundamental personality configurations, eliminate personal choice and accountability, or substitute for self-examination and introspection.