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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 2, 2005 / 30 Tishrei, 5766

Are we all going meshuggah, or are the experts crazy?

By Stuart A. Kirk


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Psychiatric researchers recently estimated that half of the American population has had or will have a mental disorder at some time in their life. A generation ago, by contrast, only a small percentage of the American population was considered mentally ill. Are we all going mad?

Freud started this. He made us suspicious that any behavior was potentially rife with psychopathology. As a neurologist, he used the medical language of pathology to suggest that the demands of civilization on our fragile human nature were such as to make all of us somewhat neurotic.

The current psychiatric bible published by the American Psychiatric Assn., "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," or the DSM, continues this tradition of making us all crazy.


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Because there are no biological tests, markers or known causes for most mental illnesses, who is counted as ill depends almost entirely on frequently changing checklists of behaviors that the DSM considers as symptoms of mental disorder. In the recent research, lay interviewers asked a sample of people to respond to lengthy questionnaires based on the DSM lists. Computer programs then counted the responses to determine if those interviewed had ever had the required number of behaviors for any mental disorder at some time in their life.

We keep getting higher estimates of mental disorders in part because the APA keeps adding new disorders and more behaviors to the manual.

Since 1979, for example, some of the new disorders and categories that have been added include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, borderline personality disorder, gender identity disorder, tobacco dependence disorder, eating disorders, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, identity disorder, acute stress disorder, sleep disorders, nightmare disorder, rumination disorder, inhibited sexual desire disorders, premature ejaculation disorder, male erectile disorder and female sexual arousal disorder. If you don't see yourself on that list, don't fret, more are in the works for the next edition of the DSM.

Because so little is known about the causes of most mental disorders, just about any behavior can look like a symptom. Here is a selection from hundreds of behaviors listed in the DSM, behaviors that signify one disorder or another: restlessness, irritability, sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little, difficulty concentrating, fear of social situations, feeling morose, indecisiveness, impulsivity, self-dramatization, being inappropriately sexually seductive or provocative, requiring excessive admiration, having a sense of entitlement, lacking empathy, fear of being criticized in public, feeling personally inept, fear of rejection or disapproval, difficulty expressing disagreement, being excessively devoted to work and productivity, and being preoccupied with details, rules and lists.

For children, signs of disorder occur when they are deceitful, break rules, can't sit still or wait in lines, have trouble with math, don't pay attention to details, don't listen, don't like to do homework or lose their school assignments or pencils, or speak out of turn.

Granted, one momentary feeling or behavior will not qualify you as having a DSM mental disorder; it requires clusters of them, usually for several weeks, accompanied by some level of discomfort. Nevertheless, as Freud suggested, the signs of potential pathology are everywhere.

The vast broadening of the definition of mental disorders has its skeptics, myself included, who are suspicious of the motivations of the APA and the drug companies that may view the expanding sweep of mental disorders like a lumber company lusting after a redwood forest. But unlike the environment, with its leagues of watchdogs, the medicalization of human foibles has few challengers. That's too bad: The misdiagnosis of mental illness often leaves a lasting trail in medical records open to schools, employers, insurance companies and courts.


Does it advance psychiatry to view an increasing expanse of human troubles as the expression of psychopathology rather than as part of the texture and diversity of life? Psychiatry once focused on the prevention and treatment of serious behavioral problems, of which there are plenty. But based on the metastasizing DSM, the psychiatric association appears to be caught up in a contemporary narcissistic quest for individual perfection.

The grand American experiment once was an attempt to structure our social and political institutions to create a more civil and just society. Perhaps, frustrated that we still contend with gross inequality, stinging poverty and rampant political and corporate corruption, we now embrace the perfectibility of individuals, not social institutions.

The public is being asked to swallow the view that all manner of human troubles — from anxiety, interpersonal squabbles to misbehavior of many kinds — be viewed not as inevitable parts of the human comedy, but as psychopathology to be treated, usually with drugs, as expugnable illnesses. The implicit ideal — the healthy, normal and truly happy camper — will, properly medicated, harbor no serious worries or animosities, no sadness over losses or failures, no disappointments with children or spouses, no doubts about themselves or conflicts with others, and certainly no strange ideas or behaviors. Their moods will be perfectly controlled in all circumstances, and bad hair days will be things of the past.

Is it inevitable that the rest of us, the recalcitrant, flawed resisters to the movement for individual perfection, will show up in future counts of the mentally disordered? Count me in.

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Stuart A. Kirk is a professor of social welfare at UCLA. He is the coauthor of "The Selling of DSM" and "Making Us Crazy." His most recent book is "Mental Disorders in the Social Environment: Critical Perspectives". To comment, please click here.

© 2005, Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate