Check out the thought-provoking article, Psychiatry by Prescription, in the latest issue of Harvard Magazine.
"A recent survey estimated that nearly half of all Americans will suffer a mental illness during their lifetimes...29 percent of people experience some form of anxiety disorder, closely followed by impulse-control disorders (25 percent) and mood disorders (20 percent)...The study has sparked heated controversy. Critics argue that the numbers reflect a gross inflation of the meaning of “disease” that blurs the line between “real” disorders and normal forms of emotional and mental suffering. “By medicalizing ordinary unhappiness,” says professor of psychiatry and medical anthropology Arthur Kleinman, who is also Rabb professor of anthropology, “we risk doing a disservice to those people who have severe mental illnesses...We may turn off the public, who are a huge source of support for mental-health research, by telling them that half of them are mad.”
Reflects Dr. Steven Hyman, Harvard Prof of Neurobiology and former NIMH director, "The DSM has given us reliability, meaning that—armed with the DSM criteria—two different observers should arrive at the same diagnosis in the same person, but it has not given us validity.” That is, one can’t be sure that the various named disorders identify distinct syndromes in the brain. In the case of personality disorders, for instance, “If you get one diagnosis, you’re likely to get two or three or five,”
Psychiatry by Prescription
Abstract: Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication