Picture this: Summer, 1947. A rancher discovers inexplicable debris in
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (better known as the DSM) has been deemed the psychiatric bible. Detailing an impressive number of mental disorders, it will make you feel like you should be committed for several, seemingly serious issues. Though it may be easy to identify with many of the descriptions within, keep in mind that they refer to people who feel and/or act a certain way on a very regular, consistent basis—not people who get down on themselves and act/feel a certain way after having a bad day.
That being said, the DSM has a history rooted in sexism, homophobia, and all the other horrible thoughts that have since lost some power in the US’s cultural dialogue. The following “disorders” may shock you for ever having gotten such a label.
The “disorder” classification that will perhaps most make you click your tongue at psychiatrists, homosexuality, is obviously not a mental health issue. It’s a sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality. Enough said.
A disorder that was thought at first to plague only women, this frankly sexist diagnosis (which, of course, came from none other than Sigmund Freud) was thought to be the physical manifestation of repressed painful experiences. Freud just couldn’t resist and had to go ahead and make those painful experiences sexual in nature. As a result, women getting mad at men have been inappropriately deemed “hysterical” for decades.
3. Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Though still in the DSM (V), this supposed “disorder” is a controversial one. True, some people have a much worse time getting through PMS then others, but it can also be seen as yet another reason why women shouldn’t be president, etc.—they just can’t control how they behave right before they menstruate!
4. Mild Mental Retardation
This group supposedly made up “most” of the overall Mental Retardation category in earlier DSMs. However, it describes people who function just like their peers up through the start of elementary school, after which they don’t have the ability to learn “beyond a sixth-grade level” but can still get jobs and have friends as adults…so this more or less describes functional people who aren’t too smart?
5. Transsexualism/Gender Dysphoria
The first has more or less morphed into the latter over the lifespan of the DSM. This has turned an issue of gender identity into a disorder, giving society an excuse to marginalize a group of people that it already has great trouble accepting. Someone’s who struggling with the fact that their body doesn’t match their true identify gets to be shunned as “mentally ill,” too. Great job, DSM (please note the sarcasm).
6. Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood
Some of the examples of how this manifests, in the DSM III, include, and I quote, girls who have “male peer groups, an avid interest in sports and rough-and-tumble play, and a lack of interest in playing with dolls or playing ‘house’” as well as boys who make “gestures and actions that are often judged against a standard of cultural stereotype to be feminine,” whatever that means. Keep in mind, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s third edition came out in 1980. (You were thinking 60’s, right?)
7. Inadequate Personality Disorder
This is exactly what it sounds like. Held on through the DSM II but dropped by the third edition, this disorder basically describes someone who feels inadequate in his or her daily life. Though there’s nothing physically or even intellectually amiss with such people, they feel like they’re just not doing well enough, socially, at work, even, perhaps, when washing the dishes. I fear this disease plagues all of us from time to time.
In a world where large communities exist openly on the basis of fetishes (think FetLife), it’s hard to imagine a time when being sexually excited by bondage, hair pulling, and shoes made psychiatrists call you mentally ill.
Cross-dressing equals illness? Now we have “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in season seven on TV.
Honestly, there are so many offensive former (and even some current) “sexual” disorders in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual that I can only begin to list them here. But I will begin:
10. Ego-dystonic Homosexuality
This basically pertains to gay people who think it would be easier to be straight.
11. Premature Ejaculation
I guess this is a serious issue if it happens all the time.
12. Inhibited Sexual Desire
The manual is referring to asexuals, here, perhaps?
Peeping Tom’s may be disgusting if they’re doing it without consent, but mentally disordered? And who isn’t a bit of a voyeur?
Same goes as for the above, I guess.
And let’s leave it at that, for now…