General News and Politics By Jim Barber, Camp Verde, Arizona Current news and political discussion
Monday, January 30, 2012
IS THE APA TRYING TO PAD THE POCKETS OF MEMBERS?
In these days of escalating health care costs and with rationing of care a likely part of any solution, a panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is proposing changes to the industry's guidebook to broaden the fields of behaviors that can be termed as "disorders." Of course, insurers would be expected to cover treatment for these new "disorders", diluting further the ability to cover serious illnesses.
Critics of the proposals fear the expanded list will "increase the number of patients treated with drugs." Allen Frances (professor emeritus, Duke University), who helped write the current guidelines said "Everyday disappointments, sufferings and eccentricities are being redefined as psychiatric disorders..." and "This is expanding the boundaries of psychiatry." More than 10,800 people, including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and community activists, have signed a letter sponsored by the American Psychological Association, critical of the changes.
Even the already over-diagnosed ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) will have watered down identifying behaviors. Currently "...a diagnosis of ADHD requires 6 symptoms to be identified in adults, including some present before the age of 7. The new manual requires only four to be identified and the disorder no longer must present itself in childhood." Dr. Frances says "The definitions of mental illness are becoming so porous, they're losing meaning. You overtreat labeled patients and take resources away from the severely ill."
One new "malady" created is called Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in Women, to be diagnosed when "there is an absence or reduced interest in sex and erotic fantasies..." Rather than drugs, perhaps family counseling or a divorce might be in order. Will we eventually see laziness listed as a disorder making one eligible for SSI payments? A report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that one in five Americans "experienced some form of mental illness, with costs in this area at $57.5 billion in 2006. Costs generated by the new proposals could only shoot higher.
Another malady, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, "listed as being characterized by temper outbursts that occur at least three times a week that are out of proportion to a provocation," is easily recognized by many parents. My dad, truck driver by trade with an 8th grade education, identified and treated it with a visual aid. When he began to pull the belt from his pants the disorder - tantrum - usually disappeared immediately. I guess Dad was a healer.