Shyness, grieving and fetishes are soon to be classified as mental illness by a new international diagnostic manual, according to specialists.
In a damning analysis of an upcoming revision of the influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts said that its new categories and "tick-box" diagnosis systems were at best "silly" and at worst "worrying and dangerous."
The experts said that some diagnoses - for conditions like "oppositional defiant disorder" and "apathy syndrome" - risk devaluing the seriousness of mental illness and medicalising behaviours most people would consider normal or just mildly eccentric.
At the other end of the spectrum, the new DSM - due out next year - could give medical diagnoses for serial rapists and sex abusers - under labels like "paraphilic coercive disorder" - and may allow offenders to escape prison by providing what could be seen as an excuse for their behavior, they added.
More than 11,000 health professionals have already signed a petition (at dsm5-reform.com) calling for the development of the fifth edition of the manual to be halted and re-thought.
"The proposed revision to DSM ... will exacerbate the problems that result from trying to fit a medical, diagnostic system to problems that just don''t fit nicely into those boxes," said Peter Kinderman, a clinical psychologist and head of Liverpool University''s Institute of Psychology at a briefing about widespread concerns over the book in London.
He said that the new edition - known as DSM-5 - "will pathologise a wide range of problems which should never be thought of as mental illnesses.
"Many people who are shy, bereaved, eccentric, or have unconventional romantic lives will suddenly find themselves labeled as mentally ill.
"It's not humane, it's not scientific, and it won't help decide what help a person needs," he said. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).