Tuesday, December 02, 2008

If everyone has a disorder, than can it really be called a "disorder"? According to this article, 1 in 5 college-age students have personality disorders.  That's 20% of the population's young people.   The percentage goes up to 50% if substance abuse is considered:

Counting substance abuse, the study found that nearly half of young people surveyed have some sort of psychiatric condition, including students and non-students.

Is this a result of over-diagnosis, or are young people more prone to these disorders than past generations?

If half of a group has a "psychiatric condition" how do we delineate what normative behavior is?

I often wonder how much of our labeling of mental issues is based on an assumption that being happy and contented with one's life is a normal state of being.  Is it possible that we are so disappointed with life's tragedies that we plunge into an emotional abyss every so often, and yet somehow think it's abnormal to feel that way?

At times, it appears as if our society is uncomfortable with the suffering and depressed.  We like to cheer each other up.  We hope for tragedy to pass us by, or at least pass through quickly if it must come our way.  We worry when people we know mourn, or don't bounce back immediately from circumstances.

Perhaps, we don't recognize that a portion of the disorders, psychiatric conditions, and depressive episodes which are diagnosed are, in some sense, "normal".  

Are our expectations too high when it comes to "normal" moods and mental health?


Boethius said...

I totally agree with you terri. We all have disorders at different times of our lives and they are normal. We should not question how long the process is for friends and/or relatives. Let them take as much time as they like healing from whatever ails them.


Anonymous said...

Interesting observations. Lately I've been working on not needing to fix everything for everybody. Being aware of it, for me, has shown just how uncomfortable I am with the pain of others. Something I'm hoping to change.


nancypants said...

Hee hee! Thanks for the link in your sidebar. :^D Now... how does one go about banning an ISP anyways? ;^P

I feel so spayshal to be in your sidebar, right there under the nakedpastor. I mean... Oh my... that came out all wrong.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You touch on so many issues I can't get them all. This is my field, after all.

As well as regular diagnoses in the DSM-IV, there are also "V-Codes:" problems that don't get a diagnosis like "marital difficulties."

Personality Disorders are somewhat a matter of degree. Dependence or histrionics are sometimes appropriate, but when either is your response to 50% of life, it's a problem. This is in contrast to diagnoses that would be brain diseases, like schizophrenia. We all have some signs of one or more personality disorders, and under intense stress might show more. Full qualification for the diagnosis is something else again.