In an op-ed from yesterday’s NY Times, Christopher Lane, a professor of English at Northwestern University, argues that shy kids are not mentally ill, and that they shouldn’t be given medication.
The piece brought to mind this critique of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), by L. J. Davis:
Current among the many symptoms of the deranged mind are bad writing (315.2, and its associated symptom, poor handwriting); coffee drinking, including coffee nerves (305.90), bad coffee nerves (292.89), inability to sleep after drinking too much coffee (292.89), and something that probably has something to do with coffee, though the therapist can’t put his finger on it (292.9); shyness (299.80), (also known as Asperger’s Disorder); sleepwalking (307.46); jet lag (307.45); snobbery (301.7, a subset of Antisocial Personality Disorder); and insomnia (307.42); to say nothing of tobacco smoking, which includes both getting hooked (305.10) and going cold turkey (292.0). You were out of your mind the last time you have a nightmare (307.47). Clumsiness is now a mental illness (315.4). So is playing video games (Malingering, V65.2). So is doing just about anything “vigorously.” So, under certain circumstances, is falling asleep at night.
The numbers in brackets are codes for each “disorder”; here is a complete list.