No other major branch of medicine has such a single text, with so much power over people’s lives. And that is worrying. Because in no other branch of medicine is the scientific reality underpinning the pronouncements of doctors so uncertain.
“Mental health experts ask: Will anyone be normal?” So read the title of a July 27 Reuters report. The “experts” warned that the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), scheduled for publication in 2013, “could mean that soon no-one will be classed as normal. . . . [M]any people previously seen as perfectly healthy could in future be told they are ill.”
This is not news. More than 200 hundred years ago Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) warned: “I believe that in the end humanitarianism will triumph, but I fear that, at the same time, the world will become a big hospital, each person acting as the other’s humane nurse.”