Most of us who wrestle with mental health issues also must confront feelings of low self-esteem. When we fully appreciate that we are not quite “normal” we may come to believe that we are “less than”. But that feeling does not last forever.
For the most part we work hard to address our maladies and gradually gain mastery over illnesses that were once overpowering. At that point we acknowledge that we have an illness, but we move among “regular folks” with a newfound comfort and confidence. We may still think of ourselves as “a wee bit different”, but we no longer feel “less than”.
Then an amazing thing happens. Because we have become confident in ourselves, we begin to look around the world with curiosity, not fear. We rapidly discover that the people we once found intimidating because they were so sane, grounded and “normal” aren’t really as mentally healthy as we gave them credit for being. The “irony alarm” goes off repeatedly as we compare some of these square shooters to the people like us, (who have been smeared with the label of “whackadoomius”), and quickly conclude that we are, in fact, a lot healthier and balanced than they are!
It’s a little bit validating, but also a little disturbing, and reminds one of the old idea that perhaps “the inmates are running the asylum”. Well, the hipsters, flipsters, and finger-poppin’ daddies at the American Psychiatric Association were well aware of this as they sat down to update the legendary Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and DSM-5 will boast some brand new diagnoses demonstrating a new willingness to view commonly accepted behavior through a pathological lens. Below are just a few new entries that show, “Normal is the new whacked”.
Bloated Toad Syndrome: Generally considered a reflection of unhealthy societal values like wretched excess and conspicuous consumption, Bloated Toad Syndrome is among the most controversial new diagnoses in DSM-5. Symptoms include: McMansions, outsized SUVs like the Bentley Behemoth, and flat screen TVs that double as load-bearing walls.
Truth Decay: APA officials estimate that one in four Americans suffers from this debilitating moral degeneration. At first restricted to a handful of “at risk” groups, (i.e., lawyers, politicians, used-car salesmen, advertising executives, and FBI agents), Truth Decay has spread nationwide and has even had a corrupting effect on television news!
Debtor’s Prism: Once as exotic as Munchausen by Proxy, Debtor’s Prism has moved to center stage in American culture. The term “prism” is used synonymously with “rose colored glasses” and refers to a type of magical thinking that causes the afflicted to purchase material possessions far beyond their means. Massively in debt, the wildly deluded sufferers buy with random abandon, completely lacking any sense of responsibility or even reality. By looking through their “debtor’s prism” they see the world they want to see, not the world that is.
Faux Real? Disorder: It has long been understood – both by the APA and the general public – that life on social networking sites consists largely of manufacturing highly inaccurate, inflated portrayals of one’s self in order to impress near and dear and strangers alike. This did not concern psychiatrists at the APA until they realized that many individuals were actually believing their own fabrications, “reading their own Press Releases” as it were. Self-deception, always a bedrock contributor to mental illness, had morphed to an entirely new level, with millions of Americans adoringly hanging on every new lie they told about themselves.
There are more. Just remember for now, not every monkey is in the zoo – some of them own the zoo.
“Sometimes it seems like the inmates are running the asylum. Then again, would a sane person want that job?” Taz Mopula