‘Poking Fun’ at mental disorders?

‘Poking Fun’ at mental disorders?

A response to an article in The Telegraph looking at the mental disorders

By Liz Lockhart 

I remember the attitudes of some people around me when I was suffering severely from panic disorder and anxiety.  I was quite literally told to ‘pull myself together’ by one family member and how I wished I could.  Oh how I wished that I was that oblivious to this condition that I could make such an unkind comment.

Yesterday I read a piece in The Telegraph which, whilst I see the fun side of what the authors are writing about, I think we must all be very careful not to trivialise what sufferers of certain mental conditions are experiencing.

The article which was compiled by Molly Oldfield and John Mitchinson has a sub-title of ‘Not really sick?’ and goes on to say:

Dozens of new disorders have been suggested for inclusion in the psychiatrist’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, due out in 2013.  One has been nicknamed Mary Whitehouse Syndrome – the thrill of being appalled by pornography.  

Others look suspiciously like fancy names for basic human character flaws; Sluggish Cognitive Tempo Disorder (laziness); Relational Disorder (not getting on with others), Negativistic Personality Disorder (whinging) and Intermittent Explosive Disorder (tantrums).

Whilst I am sure that they had great fun as they waded through the list of conditions let’s stop and think of the people who may be suffering from these conditions.  Let us also realise that laziness, tantrums and not getting on with others are all human characteristics.  This is not what is up for inclusion in the manual.  The conditions mentioned are very different and more severe and let us also not forget that they can be very debilitating.

We are all mere humans but if we really want to banish the stigma of mental health disorder then we must check ourselves and make sure that we don’t write cheap pieces of journalism poking fun at the misfortune of others.

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