- "These days, almost any restless and active boy, especially if he attends a school that has cut back on recess, runs the risk of being labeled as suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). A military hero might well be assessed as having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if he shows any unease after battle. And it seems that no one can be sad in our time without being prescribed a pill for major depression rather than given consolation."
- "Field guides work for identification purposes, and when nothing better is available they stand in for a diagnostic tool resting on more essential distinguishing characteristics. But just as the field guides of naturalists can lead to a mixing up and confusion of species and varieties that look similar (as many "birders" will attest), the field-guide method in psychiatry has now, as Mr. Lane notes, often mixed up truly ill folks with shy, restless, sad and worried people -- in other words, just about everyone at one time or another."
- Although McHugh does not criticize the subject matter entirely, he insists that "the truth is that scientific investigations into brain mechanisms, behavioral controls, vulnerabilities of temperament and responses to life-adversities will gradually solve the problems he has identified. A return to either the master from Vienna himself or the mannerists who followed after him will paralyze the effort."
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Classifying: weak science or strong science?
On page W8 of today's WSJ was a book review so entertaining I have to quote from it. Reviewed by Paul McHugh, the book's title is "Shyness: How Normal Behavior Became a Sickness" by Christopher Lane. The gist: apparently some psychologists are causing an over-diagnosis of mental disorders that are really just personality quirks - physiognomy, anyone? Some quotes (emphasis mine, as usual):