This Saturday 22nd August 8-9 PM on It’s A Question Of Balance with Ruth Copland we consider ‘Are We Medicalising Normal?’ Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity. His feeling was that with "proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented." Whilst this sounds preposterous to us now psychotherapist Gary Greenberg feels that the disorder might well have made it into the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) had it existed at the time, noting that homosexuality was listed in the DSM as a sociopathic personality disorder until 1973. Greenberg says that by trying to use a pseudoscientific model to understand and treat our “hopelessly complex” inner world, we are creating a “charade” of non-existent disorders. Obviously there is a need to help people with serious mental issues that are impeding their life and/or causing harm to others. But excluding these cases, there are a whole range of “disorders” that have sprung up that represent behaviour that used to be absorbed into normal life. In his book The Book of Woe: The DSM and the unmaking of Psychiatry, psychotherapist of 30 years Gary Greenberg states “When the DSM was [first] published there were 14 mental disorders and now there are 250 – it needs to scale back.” Do you have any sense of the medicalisation of everyday human experience? Are you aware of more children being diagnosed with mental conditions? Are we medicalising normal?
What do you think? Ruth Copland gets the views of people on the street for our Out and About feature. Join us on Saturday 8-9 PM! For more info on the show and to hear past shows visit www.itsaquestionofbalance.com