Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're all nuts!

Watching Governor Badrugovich proclaiming his purity and virtue, and vowing to fight for the right of the good people of Illinois to be governed by His Bewigged Holiness, I found myself thinking, as have many others, "Is this guy nuts or what?" But that doesn't mean that the I believe the proper disposition for him is a course of Risperdal. My diagnosis is arrogance, greed, and vanity, but none of those are to be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders.

Actually, reading the DSM is enough to give me Intermittent Explosive Disorder. The DSM first came out in 1952, and it listed 106 forms of wackoness. the DSM-II, published in 1968, identified 182 specific categories of nutzo. By 1980, with version III, we had 265 ways not to be playing with a full deck, enhanced to 292 in a 1987 revision, and the current version, DSM-IV, gives us 297 specific kinds of screwiness. Now they're working on the DSM-V -- in intense secrecy, nobody's allowed to know what they're cooking up -- but there are folks out there pushing candidate methods of failing to get your elevator to the top floor, including compulsive shopping and binge eating.

What these diseases have in common is that, once the shrink gives you the official news that you have one of them, your insurance company will pay for pills to fix you. Astonishingly, one pill can straighten out the vast majority of your mental diseases and defects. It turns out that a deficiency of the chemical serotonin sloshing around in your brain causes sadness, restlessness, lassitude, excessive sleepiness, insomnia, shyness, fear of loneliness, sloppiness, excessive tidiness, grouchiness, indifference, compulsions, revulsions, aggression, passivity, recklessness, timidity, and hair pulling.

If a serotonin booster doesn't fix you after all, you can try a tranquilizer, a sedative, a stimulant, an antipsychotic, or an anticonvulsive. After a little trial and error, with the right combination of chemicals, your compulsive shopper will be darning socks and drying out paper towels for re-use; your uncle Louis will no longer curse and throw his dentures at the TV every time Daisuke issues ball four, but will sit in Zen-like impassivity as the bases fill in the fourth inning; and your wallflower daughter who can't get a date will be screwing the entire hockey team. The DSM-V will offer all of these wonderful scientific breakthroughs. Look for them at your neighborhood drug store.


roger said...

"better living through chemistry"

i'm reading "worried sick" by nortin hadler. i recommend it as a non-invasive, non-toxic remedy for excessive angst about what ails ya.

robin andrea said...

Why is our serotonin level so low that it's driving us all crazy? I think we must be evolving into the most insane creatures to ever walk the earth.

C. Corax said...

the most insane creatures to ever walk the earth

Well, put that way, the DSM might be onto something! We really are effed up. Though I suspect a good slap up side the head will do as much as Big Pharm's remedies. Indeed, perhaps Big Pharma needs the slap.

Ana said...

The DSM is a weird compendium indeed.

The horror of it is that the nutty diagnostics interfere with 'proper' research.