The diagnostic manual of psychiatry or ‘DSM’ contains details of and instructions how to diagnose every mental pathology we have given a name to. Each pathology is a deviation from what has arbitrarily been decided ‘normal’. Thank god William Blake, Einstein or Kurt Godel (to name only three) were never subjected to such tests. Psychiatry uses drugs and cognitive therapies to change troubling behavior into an acceptable format. The drugs and therapies are based on a knowledge of mind and matter that top scientists admit is far from complete. So that’s all very comforting to know then.
The DSM has expanded year upon year increasing the amount of abnormal people who can be diagnosed with terrifying mental problems. No longer is calling someone a ‘bit weird’ and letting him get on with his solitary life in the woods is enough. These days we have to hammer him into conformity with the use of chemical batons. This year it will be expanded to include moderate to heavy drinkers and substances users. These new behaviors will now be considered as ‘addictive disorders’. Some see these measures as a big step forward in combating natural reactions to a state of mental slavery. Others have already started drinking.
So what has all this got to do with students? Well, we know they like a drink. It is fairly well known that, after being prohibited from drinking alcohol until the ludicrous age of 21 by a legislator that is puritanical as it is stupid, young people like to experiment and many experiment quite vigorously. The initial ‘honeymoon’ period of heavy drinking soon dies out and within 5 years of leaving college most people have dropped their drinking to acceptable, moderate rates. A tiny percentage may be ‘alcoholics’ who, according to AA, will struggle to ever drink moderately.
Thanks to the new diagnostic guidelines the amount of alcohol that students currently drink is enough to classify them as raging alcoholics and pack them off to rehab and the nearest 12 Step Program. This creates more revue for psychiatrists and rehabs. The keenest proponents of these new diagnoses are rehabs. But that is purely out of concern for humanity.
The worst part of all this is that many perfectly healthy students will be forced to self-label themselves as having a rather serious social and mental disorder. Who knows what kind of damage this could do to a young person’s confidence? Furthermore, these things can become a self-fulfilling prophesy: when one believes they have a problem controlling their urge to drink maybe they will start experiencing a lack of control about their drinking? It’s possible.