If the latest guidelines issued for psychiatrists are anything to go by, it’s likely that leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would have been diagnosed with mental illness in their younger years.
The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) states that individuals – particularly boys – who question authority, refuse to comply with status quo and are open to debate (amongst a host of other warning signs) may “suffer” from a condition called “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.”
This newest addition to the manual carries forward a long-standing practice of adding previously unknown, and sometimes strange, ailments to modern psychiatry.
For example, had 18th century medical practitioners known about attention deficit disorder, there is a great chance that Wolfgang Mozart would have been “medicated into barren normality”, according to an article published in the Washington Post.
He was a genius, who is said to have created his first musical piece at the age of five; but he had a foul temper and behavioral issues growing up.
Experts suggest that these newly created illnesses are making over-diagnosis and over-medication a norm.
Since 1965, the list of mental illnesses included in the DSM-IV has grown more than three times.
This represents an increase of at least 227 more psychological disorders compared to 50 years ago.
The trouble is that this growing catalogue has been altering our society.
Even more shocking is the fact that most of these illnesses affect children. For example, in recent times there has been a marked rise in cases of attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder and depression in kids.
With time, the manual is becoming more specific in terms of symptoms – this is a major contributor towards the increase in cases of psychological disorders amongst young people.
At this stage, “oppositional defiant disorder” is known to mostly affect children, but that is not to say that older people are immune.
As a freethinking American, what should send shivers down your spine is that other governments have used similar tactics for political domination.
In the Soviet Union, for example, people who did not accept the policies of the Communist Party were diagnosed with a certain type of schizophrenia.
One of the major symptoms of this illness was that they believed communism was wrong.
To remedy this disorder, the sufferers were kept in seclusion, given medication whether or not they wanted to take it and had to undergo rehabilitation to cure them of their delusional notions.
Closer to home, you would be surprised to know, things are not so different. Some states have legally permitted protective agencies to force medicate those who suffer with mental disorders. In some cases it is a punishable offence to deny these prescribed drugs.
Now that freethinking and nonconformity have been officially labeled a mental illness, those who question authority have become more vulnerable. For a repressive state, this would prove a valuable tool to keep citizens in line.
Eventually, it could lead to a society that accepts the government’s decisions no matter what.
Perhaps, Pink Floyd’s mantra is what best describes the society we live in today – “all in all you’re just another brick in the wall”.
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