Friday, January 20, 2012

Biomedical Madness

Twenty Percent of U.S. Adult Population Now Mentally Ill:

About 20 percent of American adults suffer some sort of mental illness each year, and about 5 percent experience a serious disorder that disrupts work, family or social life, according to a government report released Thursday.

Mental illness is most prevalent in women, young adults, the unemployed and people with low incomes. Drug and alcohol abuse is more than twice as common in people with mental illness than those without it. About 4 percent of adults contemplate suicide each year.

According to the study, slightly less than half the people with any mental illness — and only 60 percent of those with serious, disabling ones — get treatment each year. Whites and Native Americans are more likely to get treatment than blacks, Hispanics or Asians.

What kinds of treatment, pray tell?

Prescription medicine was the most common treatment, used by 12 percent of adults. Between 2002 and 2010, the percentage of adults getting outpatient counseling fell slightly (to 7 percent), while the fraction of adults using a prescription drug went up.

Hence, middle class whites being able to seek treatment and meds (insurance, money, etc.) and disproportionately poor and minority populations not being able to afford treatment of any kind. As Conrad and Schneider noted 20 years ago, "as a particular kind of deviant behavior becomes more middle class, the chances of it becoming medicalized dramatically increases."

Which may turn out, in the long run, to be a good thing for the poor among us, given the subjectivity and randomness of the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the revisions they are now contemplating.

New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many:

Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services, a new analysis suggests.

The results of the new analysis are preliminary, but they offer the most drastic estimate of how tightening the criteria for autism could affect the rate of diagnosis. For years, many experts have privately contended that the vagueness of the current criteria for autism and related disorders like Asperger syndrome was contributing to the increase in the rate of diagnoses — which has ballooned to one child in 100, according to some estimates.

The new analysis, presented Thursday at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, opens a debate about just how many people the proposed diagnosis would affect.

Which is an antiseptic way of saying "how many people have we misdiagnosed?" How many lives have we ruined with high-powered pharmaceuticals when, perhaps, all the person needed was cognitive therapy (if that)?

The changes would narrow the diagnosis so much that it could effectively end the autism surge, said Dr. Fred R. Volkmar, director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine and an author of the new analysis of the proposal. “We would nip it in the bud.”
Here today, gone tomorrow. Today it exists, tomorrow it doesn't (kind of like when the APA labeled homosexuality as a "mental illness" in DSM I and then eliminated it in DSM II).

At least a million children and adults have a diagnosis of autism or a related disorder, like Asperger syndrome or “pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified,” also known as P.D.D.-N.O.S. The proposed change would consolidate all three diagnoses under one category, autism spectrum disorder, eliminating Asperger syndrome and P.D.D.-N.O.S. from the manual. Only 45 percent of them would [then] qualify for the proposed autism spectrum diagnosis now under review.
Not to be too flip about it, but what they're saying is magically, overnight, 55% of those previously diagnosed would be healed (or certainly no longer mentally ill, according to the APA).

If the diagnostic criteria are so flimsy as to possibly eliminate 55% of your diagnosed mentally ill population, couldn't the same logic be applied to other exploding diagnoses of "mental illness" like bi-polar or ADHD?

And fundamentally, as per Labeling theory itself, isn't all mental illness just questionable behaviors routinely targeted for social control?

What you're seeing is the expansion of the psychiatric-industrial complex. The feel-good relationship between the APA/Psychiatry, Big Pharmaceutical and Patients is both alarming and, sadly, not surprising in the least. As I wrote in a post two years ago on this, "the bio-medical view of social behavior, like mold, continues to envelop all aspects of society."

If you want to read more, click here. Some of us have been writing (and warning) about this for years.

No comments: