The American Psychiatric Association is scheduled to publish its next edition of the massive manual of psychiatric disorders next year. Some changes were made at their Annual Meeting last week. Allen Frances has expressed some concerns in a New York Times op-ed.
A few reasons why we care what the APA says is a mental disorder:
It can influence what types of medications and treatments insurance companies will cover.
It can influence what doctors decide to do with any given patient.
It can influence how the law treats different kinds of problems. (One reason for throwing out a suit that alleged a video game maker was liable for ruining the life of a gamer who got addicted to playing it? Video game addiction is not a recognized diagnosis.)
It can affect how responsible people are considered for their actions. (And while having a diagnosis doesn’t qualify you for the insanity defense, it can act as a mitigating factor in sentencing.)
Not to mention the softer factors of telling people they have a disease or mental illness — when that’s debatable.
There are plenty more consequences — please chime in in the comments if you have thoughts!