No More Normal?
In 2013 a new edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) will be published, and the American Psychiatric Association has already begun to prepare it. A number of mental health professionals are warning that the expanded diagnoses are leading to a world in which almost no one is considered normal. A number of scientists have cited ADHD as one of the illnesses whose definition was broadened in the most recent DSM 4, and subsequently became seen as an epidemic, especially in the United States. They argue that this kind of shift in opinion could repeat with some of the revisions in the DSM 5.
Christopher Lane’s Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness looks at this very issue, and explains its root in the 1970s. While the DSM 2 (published in 1968) included just under two hundred disorders, the 1980 DSM 3 jumped in size to five hundred pages and added one hundred and twelve disorders. Lane investigates the ways in which these many conditions became disorders, revealing many flaws in the system, including susceptibility to corporations and a lack of research behind some of these diagnoses. He also examines the response to these changes that occurs in pop culture, including the film Garden State and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Lane’s book offers a glimpse into the past for those interested in understanding what is going on today in this new revision of the DSM.