Drug-company executives are salivating at prospects for big profits from a more pervasively stoned America. Their friends, the psychiatrists, plan expanded diagnoses of clinical depression to include grief resulting from loves ones' deaths. If approved, this recommendation would expand the already excessive American dependence on psychotropic drugs.

Proposed for the American Psychological Association's fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the new criteria for "major depression" would limit grieving for loved ones' deaths to two weeks. After two months, a still-grieving person would be diagnosed as "clinically depressed." Solicited for opinions on these criteria, grieving parents who lost a child ridiculed the notion that normal grief would be quickly classified as pathological.

This trend toward medicalizing normal behavior and labeling it abnormal has been under way for some four decades. Obstinate Defiant Disorder (ODD) entered the DSM about 20 years ago. ODD is, of course, suspiciously similar to a spoiled brat's obnoxious behavior. But since the word "discipline" has been expunged from the psychiatrists' vocabulary, the only way to confront bad behavior is through psychiatric therapy, often requiring drugs. The combination of psychiatric therapy and prescriptive drugs - notably for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) - has resulted in what even some psychiatrists view as overmedicalization with tranquilizers. Not coincidentally, both the psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical corporations profit handsomely from excessive drug therapy. There's big money in therapy, none in discipline.

You needn't be a psychiatrist to see the sometimes farcical consequences of treating this soft science as if it was a hard, physical science. Our primitive judicial system, which features adversarial instead of neutral, court-retained expert witnesses, continually exposes psychiatry's scientific defects.

Psychiatrists testifying for judicial adversaries often contradict each other with diametrically opposed opinions seldom encountered in the physical sciences. In one notable drug-related case, a judge charged opposing psychiatrists with extreme bias favoring their clients, thus, rendering their opinions worthless. Testifying about the defendant's mental competence to stand trial, the opposing experts delivered hopelessly divergent views. According to the prosecution expert, the defendant's verbal IQ was 88, easily qualifying him as mentally competent. According to the defense expert, however, the defendant's IQ was 58, easily qualifying him as mentally incompetent. Physical science seldom produces such wide disparities.

Nonetheless, judged by the psychiatrists' defense of their proposed diagnoses, grieving persons will be assaulted by pharmaceutical company ads exhorting them to urge their doctors to allow them to drug themselves into oblivion instead of coping with grief's natural consequences. Predicting commercial as well as political action in America, you seldom go wrong by following the money.

C.W. (Bill) Griffin is a retired consulting engineer. He has lived in Ahwatukee Foothills for 22 years.

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