Christians tend to have some strong feelings about counseling, psychology, psychiatry and similar terms. Come to think of it, most people, regardless of faith, have strong feelings about these topics. Experiences dictate much of these reactions. Experiences, such as:
- experiencing or hearing of a mental health representative (mhp) belittling Christianity
- experiencing or hearing of an arrogant, controlling, or completely incompetent mhp
- experiencing or hearing of a positive experience where someone found relief or change or insight
- feeling either helped or stigmatized by a received diagnosis or a use of medication
In psychopathology class tonight, we will explore the background behind psychiatric classifications. How did we get the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual? What are its underpinnings? There are a couple of common concerns about the DSM
- It purports to be atheoretical and descriptive only
- Diagnoses suggest objective and distinct “things”
- It medicalizes problems in living
- Under one diagnosis (e.g., depression) you can have such wide variety of symptoms
- Therapists have sizeable disagreements on diagnoses so are they all that helpful?
- It is leveraged by insurance in ways that make it a liability
- It doesn’t address matters of the heart or spirit
- It has political overtones
- It treats most problems in an individualistic fashion without account for family systems
Every one of these concerns has merit. However, the biggest problem I have is not with the DSM itself but with many of its users. The complaints that are raised about the DSM usually come from someone mis-using the DSM.
Remember the simple explanation of a problem almost always distorts it. Thus, the simplistic use of diagnostic labels almost always does damage.