Saving Normal

Topics: Mental disorder, Psychiatry, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder Pages: 5 (1348 words) Published: August 3, 2014

What is normal? Normal, like the word love, has no true definition and will differ with every person you ask. Defined in the dictionary normal is “to conform to a particular standard” or “desired pattern”. I believe most people will say a normal person is one whom is free from defect, handicap and mental illness. Medicalization is a social process through which a previously normal human condition whether is be behavioral, physiological or emotional, becomes a medical problem in need of treatment. For example, not long ago being a shy person, “being reserved or having or showing nervousness or timidity in the company of other people”, was common and something most people experienced at some points in their lives. However, now shyness is out the realm of normal and made it’s way into medical books. A shy person may now be one who is suffering from “avoidant personality disorder” or a number of other anxiety-relation mental disorders that has to be treated with antidepressants. In Saving Normal, Dr. Allen Frances argues that a high percentage of people diagnosed with mental illness are actually normal. This widespreasd medicalization of normality is leading to over-treatment and over-medicating of mental health issues. The biggest health threat that we face may be our health-care system. The Diagnostic and Statitical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM, has become the “bible” for physiatrists. It was first published in 1953 and since then has been revised several times. The DSM is the go to guide for doctors, government and health insurers and also used in the law. Being the chair of the DSM-IV task force, Allen Frances had the inside scoop on how the psychiatric community classified and defined mental disorders and illnesses. He then goes to explain how the newest edition of the DSM causes people to be diagnosed and prescribed drugs when they actually don’t need them. The DSM-V has expanded criteria for diagnosis of certain mental or psychological conditions and added new conditions that redefine more people as having mental illness. Both of these issues lead to ‘normal’ people being labeled as patients in need of pharmaceutical treatment. It is worrying that the decisions about DSM-V categories are made by experts with financial ties to the industry that benefits most from a widened patient population. Having criteria that is too broad means that people who would do well without medication are being prescribed drugs they don’t need and may possibly be harmed by. The problems with over-treatment and over-diagnoses as they relate to mental health are alarming. For example, the widespread diagnoses of mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, is appalling. ADHD used to be only diagnosed to a small percentage of children, but currently all matters of activeness and disruption a child shows in their classroom is being medicalized. Some kids, particularly boys, are by nature more active than other. Childhood has now become an illness, what now passes for ADHD is nothing more than normal variation or developmental difference. Two-thirds or more of active kids who have been mislabeled ADHD suffer unnecessary stigma, reduced expectations and harmful side effects from the drugs they’re on. Medicalization has increased the profitability of the pharmaceutical industry. Before you sell a drug you have to sell an illness. Therefore pharmeceutical companies now not only market drugs, but also they market illnesses as well. As relating to ADHD, the misleading marketing by drugs companies to push their pills plays a big role in kids being mislabeled and mistreated once parents or educators view these advertisements. The rate of ADHD in the United States has tripled to an inflated 11%. While the sales of ADHD medications are approaching a profit of $10 billion a year. As Frances believes the biggest person who is responsible for diagnostic inflation is Big...
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