The following are five new mental disorders that have been included in the American Psychiatric Association’s 2015 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the reference book for those working in the field of mental health.
The new disorders show the willingness of American psychiatry to see psychiatric disorders for what they are: renewable sources of billable hours. Kudos to the APA committee that worked to include these conditions in the DSM. They are clearly crazy smart.
I. Paying Attention Disorder
Paying attention disorder (PAD) is a psychological condition that involves being attentive to whomever or whatever one is involved with. It can be seen in individuals who, when lunching with others, try to engage them in meaningful conversation rather than speaking on their cell phones or accessing their emails during a meal. These people genuinely attempt to talk and listen to those seated around the table. Typically no one pays attention to anything they say, because who has time to pay attention to anything these days? It’s just bolt down your breakfast, rush off to the office, grab a quick bite for lunch, dash home to dinner, help the kids with their homework, catch up with your email, grab a few zzzs, and do it all over again tomorrow.
To overcome PAD the patient should get married, have children, move to the suburbs, and get a job in middle management. Working for the Department of Motor Vehicles is particularly recommended, as DMV employees are specially trained never to pay attention to anyone. Alternatively, the patient can try to find employment as a customer-relations representative for a large corporation or government agency.
II. Single Personality Disorder
To meet the constant challenges and changing conditions in today’s hectic fast-paced world, people have to be pliable and able to reinvent themselves. That’s a lot easier to do if you have multiple personalities. If you have just one it is almost impossible.
For example, let’s say you’re a shy person with a single personality who’s working as a reference librarian and the library shuts down. You’ve got bills to pay and you need to find a job quickly, but the only work immediately available is striptease dancing at Sam’s Cabaret. Sadly, you won’t make much money if you get work there. Most men prefer strippers who are live wires.
To gain additional personalities, the patient should be encouraged to go to the movies and adopt the personas of the various characters that appear on the screen. Another strategy the patient can use is to ask a person with multiple personalities if he or she would be willing to sell a few of them. Finally, the patient can buy a lotto ticket and hope they win the grand prize. If that happens the patient can do whatever they like.
III. Lack of Narcissism Personality Disorder
Narcissistic personality disorder was listed as a mental condition in the last edition of the DSM. But this categorization is no longer valid, as recent studies indicate that those who have an exaggerated sense of their own importance do very well in American society. Simply put, narcissists rule.
To treat Lack of Narcissism Personality Disorder, advise the patient to go to Bloomingdale’s with a credit card and tell the salespeople there, “Do you think you can help me to look better?” The oohs and the ahs that the patient will receive from the fawning sales staff as he or she buys loads of expensive clothing and beauty products should convince them that they are positively fabulous. Having plastic surgery and purchasing a top of the line automobile are also useful interventions for making a person think he or she is hot stuff.
If the patient does not have enough money to acquire high-priced consumer items, cognitive therapy should be attempted. Have the patient procure a talking mirror and mount it on a wall in their house. Then tell the patient to ask the mirror the following question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the greatest one of all?” Program the mirror to respond, “You’re without a doubt the best, head and shoulders above the rest.”
IV. Fear of Seeing an Attorney
This infirmity is manifested by a desire to accept an apology or work things out with a person who has done you wrong in some way. The result is you will not collect any money from that person, and neither will ambulance-chasing lawyers who in billboards all over the country implore people to sue at the slightest provocation. Fear of seeing an attorney is a rare mental disorder, as most people will run to see a lawyer if they are slighted in the least bit.
The best way to treat fear of seeing an attorney is to have the patient go to law school and become a lawyer. Three years of legal training usually rids an individual of any desire to reach an agreement without litigating. Bibliotherapy can also be of use. Have the patient read books about the importance of asserting one’s rights and not letting other people take advantage of you. Finally, using behavioral therapy, direct the patient to go to McDonald’s, order a cup of tea, and say it was so hot that they burnt themselves and that they will be suing. Counsel the patient not to settle. McDonald’s has deep pockets—should be an easy case.
V. Talk Radio Addiction (TRA)
Talk Radio Addiction is a compulsion to listen to talk radio programs and then to tell one’s spouse and colleagues that they are wacky out-of-touch liberals who should leave the country if things are so bad. TRA sufferers are fond of conflict and refuse to be swayed by the facts. When they take a stance on something they will normally brook no opposition however a rant by Sean Hannity or a radical lobotomy can occasionally cause them to reverse a position.
TRA is a difficult disease to treat because the patient does not realize he is sick. He thinks you are. Removing the radio from the house can be tried, but the patient will then often go down to Radio Shack, buy a pocket radio, and listen to call-in talk shows when they go out walking. A better idea is to divert the patient’s attention in some way and then change the channel to a sports or music station. Over time the patient may develop a liking for one of these forms of entertainment. Surgery has been successful in some cases, but opening a person’s mind is a tricky procedure that should only be attempted by highly trained specialists who have tremendous patience for dealing with total morons.
The APA has announced that a number of psychological conditions linked to excessive Internet use will appear in the next edition of the DSM. Those conditions will include Facebook Friend Posting Disorder, Twitterphilia, Compulsive Googling, Social Media mania, and an umbrella disorder that has been tentatively labeled Virtual Insanity. The APA is asking the public to e-mail additional suggestions of Internet-related conditions to them. If your disease is selected for inclusion in the next DSM you will receive a free copy of the book, an honorary medical degree, a prescription pad, and a list of well-heeled neurotics who may be crazy enough to see you.
Martin H. Levinson is the author of nine books and numerous articles, plays, and poems on various subjects. He is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. His website can be accessed at martinlevinson.com.