Erik Rush, conservative commentator for WorldNetDaily, has a new fear that’s keeping him awake at night. In a piece for the Canada Free Press titled “Obamacare and the DSM-5: Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid”, Rush is making the over-the-top claim that President Obama is in cahoots with the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Why does he believe this? Because in May 2013, the APA will release an updated version, the first update since 2000, of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This manual is the worldwide industry recognized and respected psychiatric guide to identifying and diagnosing mental illness.
“Now, while the APA is the premier psychiatric association in America, driving what passes for all conventional wisdom with regard to mental illness, in recent years it has been accused of being more agenda-driven than representing hard, scientific and medical assessments of mental disorders. Decidedly liberal-leaning, in recent decades it has essentially redefined such things as homosexuality, gender identification disorder, and pedophilia to reflect what pressure groups and the liberal intelligentsia wish, rather than continuing to describe them as psychologically aberrant.” (Canada Free Press)
You may be wondering what President Obama has to do with the APA and the DSM-5 and how Rush connected the crazy-dots to discover a link between the president and the APA. Well, it’s because the release of the new manual coincides too closely with the implementation of provisions in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“One begins to see how having such a biased organization whimsically defining and re-defining mental illness in light of recent political developments might be, shall we say, troublesome to say the very least.
For example: It has been established that the oxymoronical (sic) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) signed into law in 2010 is anything but affordable. Worse, its detractors rightly indicated that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s admonition that it must be passed so that we could see what was in it was dangerous as well as idiotic. Well, the poison pills therein are already being revealed in the form of hidden regulations that either incur cost, or impinge upon constitutional protections.
Then, we have President Obama’s proclivity for overreach, to put it more than politely. Whether we are discussing his use of the Executive Order to actualize that which he cannot pass through Congress, to his perceived right to assassinate American citizens without due process, factoring this tendency into the aggregate circumstances could spell nothing less than a dystopian nightmare.” (Canada Free Press)
In the frightening world that is Erik Rush’s mind, all of this somehow adds up to one thing: President Obama, who Rush says worships himself and no God, and the left are going to use the DSM-5 to target Christians and diagnose them with mental illness.
“Finally, we have the political left’s intense derision for Christianity, and this most definitely includes Obama. Despite having passed himself off as a Christian in the eyes of the grotesquely ignorant, it is clear that he is functionally an atheist. Many argue that he is in fact a Muslim; my belief is that while he holds a marked affinity for Muslims, he is far too narcissistic to deign worshipping (sic) anything other than himself. More than anything else, he is a Marxist.” (Canada Free Press)
Rush perceives the president as having a particular disdain for “European society” and Christianity.
“Along with his disdain for European society and what Obama perceives as the vestiges of imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy (which includes America), he also despises that which gave rise to it, which serves as its cultural adhesive, and which stands as the chief impediment to a Marxist America: Christianity.” (Canada Free Press)
Although Rush recognizes that the public doesn’t yet know what updates and changes will be found in the DSM-5, we need to start the paranoia now so that
the right can have three months to freak out and wallow in Obama-fear we can be prepared for the worst.
“So, what new diagnoses, designations, and revisions might be included in the DSM-5? We won’t know for certain until May, but given the history of the APA, I believe Americans have reason to be afraid. I believe that we shall see an increasing incidence of sinister provisions in Obamacare coming to light, and conflict within the medical and legal communities as to the government’s latitude in these areas.” (Canada Free Press)
Rush further hypothesizes that “mental illnesses” such as anger issues and insomnia will be used to label Christians as mentally defective and infringe upon their constitutional rights.
“In the area of mental illness, given the administration’s totalitarian bent, this could mean an era of atrocities galore. Have you ever suffered from anxiety? Depression? Had “anger issues?” Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism? Had trouble sleeping? Any of these and a host of others might be used as a pretext for one’s designation as a mental defective. One might suddenly discover that due to some benign neurosis or psychological episode, perhaps in their distant past, their constitutional rights have been nullified overnight.” (Canada Free Press)
It bears noting that anxiety, depression, anger issues, and chemical dependency are already IN the DSM-4. s. Having worked at a psychiatric hospital and in a facility for special needs adults, I can testify that patients rights are constantly being upheld above almost all other things, including, in some cases, their right to refuse certain treatments. In fact,even the appearance of infringement on a patient’s rights can result in an investigation.
Rush maintains that individuals could possibly be detained by the government for lengthy assessments.
“Such individuals may be detained by the government for an indeterminate length of time, “assessed,” and designated as suffering with some form of mental illness. They might then find themselves barred from owning or possessing a firearm, or obtaining driver’s or pilots licensees. Perhaps they will not be allowed to serve in the military or law enforcement, to work in government service, schools, day care centers, hospitals or medical clinics. And forget ever surviving an employment background check that requires security clearance.” (Canada Free Press)
Mr. Rush is basing most of his paranoia on a single work by a work by former law professor (note: NOT a doctor) Toni Bernhard, in which Bernhard, author of books about Buddhist-inspired health and happiness, stated concerns about the DSM-5’s proposed listing of Somatic Symptom Disorder, an illness that addresses the psychological concerns that are often associated with long-term physical illness, including disproportionate thoughts about the seriousness of the symptoms, high level anxiety about the symptoms and possible outcomes, and devotion of excessive time and energy to the symptoms and health concerns. (Psychology Today)
“In the January 17, 2013 edition of Psychology Today, Toni Bernhard, a former law professor at University of California at Davis, penned Your Physical Illness May Now Be Labeled a Mental Disorder, which discusses the APA’s reclassification of a myriad of physical ailments as psychological disorders. It is a chilling insight into how this insidious process could work.” (Canada Free Press)
Rush calls forth as evidence the precedent set in the former Soviet Union and “other” totalitarian states.
“As the reader may be aware, in the former Soviet Union and other totalitarian states, one of the pretexts often used to do away with political dissidents and those otherwise deemed to be threats to national security was to label them as mentally ill and ship them off to an asylum. Sometimes they returned; often they did not, but they were out of the way for as long as was necessary in the capricious mind of the regime, and the citizenry was duly warned that the same could happen to them should they likewise pose such a ‘threat.'” (Canada Free Press)
He goes one stop further and narrows it down to a specific group of people who will be target and persecuted: Christians!
“In the case of those who pose the most dire threat to Obama’s designs – Christians – these will certainly be targeted. After all, who more demonstrably epitomizes mental instability in the eyes of the Marxist atheist than those who commune with and rely upon that which is unseen? To the Marxist, God is no more real than Elwood’s “Harvey,” and even more antiquated than the Constitution.” (Canada Free Press)
Never mind that historically, Christians (specifically Anglo Christians) in the U.S.,. with the goal being “ethnic cleansing,” have actually persecuted and falsely diagnosed entire ethnic groups of people with mental illness. For example, the Abenaki Indian tribe in the Northeast was almost completely eliminated because of persecution, institutionalization, and sterilization (to keep them from breeding more undesirable people). The criteria for diagnosis included physical illnesses such as a limp from polio, cultural differences, and even lack of literacy.
In anticipation of the wing-nut GOP politicians using this to whip the populous into a frenzy (you KNOW it’s going to happen), let me attempt to debunk this garbage and do my part to try to prevent the paranoid right from freaking out and spreading fear via these hypotheses that were manufactured by the mind of a man who could benefit from evaluation himself.
The DSM-4 already addresses medical issues via Axis III: “General medical condition; acute medical conditions and physical disorders.”
The current DSM is organized into a five-part axial system. The first axis incorporates ‘clinical disorders. The second axis covers personality disorders and intellectual disabilities. The remaining axes cover medical, psychosocial, environmental, and childhood factors functionally necessary to provide diagnostic criteria for health care assessments. (Wikipedia)
Common Axis III disorders include brain injuries and other medical/physical disorders which may aggravate existing diseases or present symptoms similar to other disorders. (Wikipedia)
The fact is that as the DSM has evolved over the years, and each revision has addressed newly defined illnesses and removed conditions no longer considered to be mental disorders. For example, in the early 1900’s, many mental illnesses were grouped under “hysteria.” Women could be diagnosed with hysteria for any number of problems, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, but most significantly, sexual frustration, which was treated by a doctor bringing a woman to orgasm. Clearly sexual frustration is NOT a mental illness and time and science have determined that a sexually frustrated woman does not need to be institutionalized.
Narrowing illnesses down to specific criteria has resulted in fewer people being institutionalized for clinical depression and other illnesses that can be treated successfully with medication. Furthermore, severe conditions such as schizophrenia were often seen as demonic possession and treated via questionable exorcisms.
As the DSM evolves, it clarifies and identifies specific disorders. Many people who are chronically ill with a physical condition begin to feel a psychological toll from the illness. Constant worry, stress, anxiety, and hopelessness can manifest as depression, anxiety, compulsive obsessive disorder, and other mental illnesses. Clinical diagnosis of these serious conditions is inappropriate when it is clear that the symptoms are being caused as a direct result of a previously mentally healthy person’s physical illness. So actually, a diagnosis of “Somatic Symptom Disorder” is far more desirable and carries less of a stigma than a false diagnosis of “bipolar disorder,” for example.
The evolution of the DSM has been in process for a long time – since the first official attempt of a diagnostic manual in 1840. Criteria was determined based on census data. Any person with a mental illness of ANY kind, including paranoia and depression, was labeled with “idiocy/insanity.” (Wikipedia) Based on this, the GOP and the paranoid right should be appreciative of DSM evolution. After all, by 1840 standards, most of them would be in straight jackets.
Mr. Rush, based on Ms. Bernhard’s writings, would like to see conditions “broadened.” Trust me on this. We WANT mental illness narrowed down.
I recommend viewing this trailer for Hysteria, a movie, based on actual events, about the medical treatment of women in the early 19th century. Watching the entire movie could also be helpful to GOP politicians and their spouses. Application of the treatment used in the movie would go a long way towards making them happier, and therefore, more mentally healthy. If Mr. Rush is correct in his predictions and paranoia, this may be their only chance to get happy before the crazy train comes to take them away.
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.