Do you know how to say ‘my hovercraft is full of eels’ in Dutch? I do: mijn luchtkussenboot zit vol paling. This helpful phrase was included in one of the guides I was looking at so that I could at least pretend to not be a stupid American without any knowledge of the local language when I go to the Netherlands next week. I’m not sure if I will actually need to inform anyone that my hovercraft is full of eels, but it’s good to be prepared.
I’m conflicted about the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I understand the need for shared diagnostic criteria across the mental health professions, but I’m extremely critical of the pathologization and medicalization of many of the “conditions” and “disorders” that the manual describes. In some cases, a diagnosis can allow individuals who are privileged enough to have health insurance the ability to get their mental health care covered by their insurance provider. That is one of the main arguments I have heard in favor of retaining the diagnosis of “Gender Dysphoria” in the DSM. In other cases, diagnoses can justify declaring a person unfit to consent or refuse treatment. The DSM does not just name and describe “disorders.” It also regulates the hazy border between “normal” and “abnormal,” between “sane” and “crazy.”
Currently, the DSM is undergoing a revision, with the newest version–DSM-5– to be released in May, 2013. As part of the far-reaching revision, the American Psychiatric Association has opened the DSM-5 up for reader comments on the structure and criteria changes. Anyone can create an account, log in, and submit comments on the proposed revisions to the criteria and structure of the manual. In general, the text from the current manual (DSM-IV) for reference with the proposed DSM-5 descriptions and criteria. The current comment period is open until June 15, 2011.
Unfortunately, it probably won’t be too effective to just log on and leave the comment, “This is not a psychiatric disorder. Take it out of the manual!!!”…. which is my first inclination with things like the “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.“ However, maybe if enough folks offer thoughtful comments, we can shift the ways that the psych industry defines and thinks about our identities, brains, and bodies.
I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that May is both Mental Health Month and National Masturbation Month. If you think about it, they’re both about taking care of yourself and your needs… and they can certainly go hand in hand (or, hand in… um. I’ll stop there).
I’m a little skeptical of some of the language around “Mental Health Month.” I understand the importance of educational campaigns, but the reliance on the talking point that “one in four adults struggles with a treatable mental health condition” makes me a bit uncomfortable because of it’s emphasis on ‘treatment.’ I’m in favor of people seeking treatment if they personally desire it, but our current mental health industry is so focused on pathology and profit that the available “treatments” often don’t support the overall well-being of the individual seeking care. At worst, an individual may enter treatment and lose their right to consent or to leave.
As such, I am cautious about a Mental Health Month that advocates ‘treatment’ without some significant caveats. As I see it, Mental Health Month should be more about addressing the failures of the psych industry, focusing on self-care (there’s where the connection to National Masturbation Month comes in!) and community wellness… and for that matter, we shouldn’t limit it to the month of May!
Here’s the second batch of my favorite shots from my promo photo shoot in an abandoned institution with Syd London. I posted the first batch a few days ago, but there were too many good shots to fit into a single post! If you’re hungry for more, you can view the entire set from the shoot (over 100 photos!) on Flickr.
And no, we don’t know why there was an old coffin in the middle of that last room either.
The US Department of Labor has added gender identity to the protected classes listed on equal opportunity policies for federal employees. Along with pregnancy, gender identity is now listed under sex discrimination as a protected category. It’s unclear whether these protections include gender expression as well.
The new protections do not impact local or state government employees, or employees working in the private sector.
You can view the statement from the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, here.