In 2013 the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defined a new mental illness: “oppositional defiant disorder” or ODD.
ODD is an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behaviour,” with symptoms including; questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.
Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it’s because they’re better able to identify these illnesses today. Critics charge that it’s because they have too much time on their hands.
New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. In the past, these were called “personality traits,” but now they’re diseases. And there are treatments available.
There is an obvious danger involved with such loose definitions such as the one employed in identifying the alleged illness of “ODD”. A chilling example was provided by the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s. In a 1959 speech, Nikita Khrushchev made the following remark:
“Can there be diseases, nervous diseases among certain people in the communist society? Evidently there can be. If that is so, then there also will be offenses which are characteristic of people with abnormal minds. To those who might start calling for opposition to communism on this ‘basis,’ we say that now, too, there are people who fight against communism, but clearly the mental state of such people is not normal.”
Obviously, questioning the best socio-economic system ever devised had to be a sign of insanity, and after Khrushchev’s speech Soviet psychiatrists immediately went to work to discover and institutionalize all those mentally ill “communism deniers”.
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