Non-Conformists Now Labelled as Having a “Mental Disorder”

by Bruce Boyers

In news that will come as a shock to many of us who grew up in the 1960s and 70s—it turns out that, according to the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, we were all suffering from a mental disorder called “oppositional defiant disorder.” This “disorder” is shocking-news-todaydefined in the DSM as an “ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior.”

The article reporting the news points out that, given the vague nature of this definition, nearly any pattern of behavior seen as strange by anyone else could be categorized as a symptom of ODD. ODD sufferers could easily include geniuses whose behavior or ways of thinking were viewed as eccentric, such as Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell. It could also include giants of our time who challenged social norms and brought about positive change, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

The definition of ODD could even include children who challenge or oppose others of their own age—even though such behavior is extremely common in children and has never even been remotely proven to be a symptom of some kind of disorder.

Thought Control

Such labels can (and should be) easily dismissed and laughable. But as the article also points out, authorities in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics used medical diagnoses to control and regulate public thinking. Those that dissented with state propaganda, if they were vocal enough, found themselves categorized as mentally impaired and incarcerated in mental institutions. They were forced to take mind-altering drugs that affected them for life.

The article quotes a 2002 analysis and commentary on the abuse of psychiatry published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law: “Psychiatric incarceration of mentally healthy people is uniformly understood to be a particularly pernicious form of repression, because it uses the powerful modalities of medicine as tools of punishment, and it compounds a deep affront to human rights with deception and fraud. Doctors who allow themselves to be used in this way… betray the trust of society and breach their most basic ethical obligations as professionals.”

Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights has been reporting on psychiatric misdiagnosis and abuse since 1969.

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