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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/22/12

DSM-5 Could Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

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Message Elayne Clift

 

   Feminist therapists are concerned for women in particular. Diagnoses such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Sexual Dysfunction have disparaged women and compromised them in troubling ways. For example, one expert says that BPD is almost exclusively applied to women because its symptoms relate to emotion and anger.   Some women with the diagnosis have histories of abuse and may have difficulty expressing anger "appropriately."   Such vulnerable women need to have their coping styles better understood before assumptions are made about their behavior.

 

   Similarly, "sexual dysfunction" among women is often based on assumptions about what constitutes normal sexual behavior.   "If only performance failures or lack of desire count, the entire context of sexual activity becomes invisible and of secondary importance," says one member of the Association of Women in Psychology (AWP).  

 

   Another AWP member focuses on classism in psychiatric diagnosis.   "Poor women and women of color are particularly likely to be misdiagnosed or encounter bias in treatment," she says. "Therapists may interpret chronic lateness or missed appointments as hostility or resistance to treatment rather than the outcomes of unreliable transportation, irregular shift work, and unpredictable child care arrangements."

 

   Caplan and her colleagues warn that "the absence of science creates a vacuum, and biases and distortions rush in."   Serious problems like depression are overlooked as people are diagnosed with unproven "mental illnesses'.    "Many people who are suffering because of social problems like poverty or because they are victims of hate speech or violence are wrongly treated as though the problems come from within them."

That's enough to make anyone call for hearings instead of professional help.

 

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Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
 
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DSM-5 Could Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

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