The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a book of approximately 1,000 pages. The “nickname” for this hefty book is DSM. It’s a pretty scary book.
One thousand pages—-my goodness, that’s a lot of pages devoted to what can be wrong with a person! This vast book includes a wide variety of “disorders” ranging from something as seemingly benign as Caffeine Intoxication Disorder to various types of psychosis.
For many professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry the DSM is a bible. Certainly, the DSM is the Holy Grail of insurance companies. Treatment will not be covered unless a patient has a solid diagnosis from the DSM. Other professionals, me included, think the DSM is a rather interesting, bizarre and potentially dangerous book.
Why do I find this book to be dangerous? In part, I find it so because individuals who are under stress will often present with fairly serious symptoms. Oftentimes these symptoms can be fairly quickly resolved. On the other hand, a serious diagnosis can stick with a stressed patient. It can be dangerous if the diagnosis becomes an aspect of identity. And, I think that the DSM is basically shallow and doesn’t reflect a deep knowledge of the individual. Mental and Emotional problems cannot be diagnosed in the same way as physical problems.
I agree with Carl Whitaker, a well-known psychiatrist and a founder of the family therapy movement. Whitaker was a wise man who promoted creativity and spontaneity for both the therapist and the client. In regards to the DSM he said that he thought there was truly only one issue for any human being.
How about closing your eyes right now and guessing what that one issue which we all share is?
(Drum roll, please!) The issue shared by all of humankind is simply this: No one feels and believes that he or she is good enough. Wow! If the psychiatric community believed this then the DSM could be reduced to one line. On the other hand, I suppose we could make a case for believing that many of the disorders in the DSM develop out of the belief that “I am just not good enough?” After all, can’t the “not good enough” belief potentially trigger anxiety, depression and anger?
So many events happen in our lives which disturb our confidence. And if “things” didn’t happen which trigger the “not good enough” feeling it is characteristic of humankind to note shortcomings and not give attention to strengths. We tend to take our strengths for granted.
To continually evolve, to become all we can be is indicative of leading a good life. We all desire to reach our full potential. I suppose feeling “not good enough” can help along these lines. This feeling can give way to self-assessments which can help us to overcome faults and to embark on a self-improvement quest. In this way, the “not good enough” feeling, like all feelings, can be a helpful guide. If feeling not good enough is part and parcel of human nature then let us encourage ourselves to accept this aspect of ourselves. Use the feeling as a guide for gentle self-improvement, but never as a way to beat ourselves up.
And, let us all be cautious that the “not good enough” feeling is not slowly but insidiously leading us to a mental or emotional diagnosis which could block the realization of our potential, and block our health and our happiness. In truth, we are all good enough! Feelings are guides but they are not indicative of reality.
Have a great week & thanks for reading,