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American Psychiatric Association Significantly Expands Definition of Mental Disorders

Posted by Steve Markowitz on November 4, 2013

Attorney Fiona Ong with the labor law firm Shawe and Rosenthal LLP, Baltimore, posted an interesting (troubling) piece concerning the definition of Mental Disorders (Caffeine Withdrawal a Psychiatric Disorder- Seriously?) and included below.  According to the posting, the American Psychiatric Association recently released its fifth definition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) used by the medical and legal community to diagnose/define mental disorders.  It includes 15 new disorders such as caffeine withdrawal, hoarding disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, binge eating disorder, restless leg syndrome, and social (pragmatic) communication withdrawal.  Yikes!

Given Ms. Ong’s labor-law background it is not surprising that she correctly points out that the expanded definition for psychiatric disorders opens up a whole new host of problems for American businesses since the “new disorders” may fall under the auspices of the Americans with Disabilities act (ADA).  This will increase the cost and complexity of doing business in the United States.

There are interesting issues raised by the American Psychiatric Association’s expanded definition of mental disorders.  Are these disorders actually new?  If so, what in society has caused them?  If they are not new, then why did the APA misdiagnose them for so long?  Shouldn’t any misdiagnosis open their industry up to malpractice claims?

It is also troubling that the psychiatric industry (along with the pharmaceutical industry), which has so to gain financially from expanding the defined disorders, has the ability to make judgments that involve subjective reasoning.

The definition of “disabilities” in the United States has been expanded significantly in recent decades.  Our society that has seen increasing influence from the Progressive governing class with the exploding number of disability claims.  CNNMoney reported the following:

  • Since 2003 there has been a 29% jump in Americans with little or no work experience getting disability payments.
  • Since 2003 there has been a 44% increase in disability claims by people formerly in the workplace.
  • Disability claims from veterans are up 28% during the past five years
  • The federal government spent $250 billion in 2011 paying more than 23 million Americans some form of disability claim.
  • In 2011 7% of the overall population and 16% of the workforce in the United States received some form of disability payment from the federal government.

The numbers are staggering and indicate an unsustainable trajectory.  However, even these numbers are understated since they do not include those individuals out of work on workers compensation claims or receiving short-term disability payments.

The US government’s disability claims are managed by the Social Security Administration.  According to CNNMoney the disability fund under this program will run out in about two years.  This will require either Social Security to cut benefits, raise taxes, or dip into its general funds, none of which are desirable.

The Progressive governing class is hell-bent on making more Americans dependent on the government.  While purportedly done for the good of recipients, in fact, this class/industry benefits greatly by offering its services to those in “need”.  And let us not forget the governing class themselves that maintains power through the use if the handouts and their promise to keep them coming to the dependent class.  This gig, however, will run out when those governing no longer can print money due to the ravages of inflation.  This tune has played out many times in “advanced” civilizations throughout history.

Caffeine Withdrawal a Psychiatric Disorder- Seriously?, By Fiona W. Ong on October 28th, 2013

I often say (only somewhat flippantly) that we are all disabled, but the newly released fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) seems to really go out of its way to make that point.  The DSM-5, which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association, serves as the authoritative guide on the diagnosis of mental disorders.  This most recent edition includes more than 15 new disorders.  These include such humdingers as caffeine withdrawal, hoarding disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, binge eating disorder, restless leg syndrome, and social (pragmatic) communication withdrawal. (?!!! I am having an attack of caffeine withdrawal right now.)

Well, that just greatly expanded the number of people who can now claim psychiatric disorders, meaning that they may be disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADAAA).  And if so, employers may see an increase in the number and types of accommodation requests.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that not every psychological disorder is considered a disability under the ADAAA.  The law specifically exempts some disorders – such as sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania and pyromania – from coverage.  Others may not qualify as disabilities because they do not affect a major bodily function or major life activity, or may be only temporary in nature.  And even if the condition does constitute a disability, it may not need to be accommodated.  Accommodations are only required to the extent that they enable the employee to perform his essential job functions, and such accommodations must be reasonable in any case (meaning that they do not impose an undue hardship for the employer).

I am now going to get some coffee.


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