I've been listening to the book "The Body Keeps Score." It talks about how the diagnosis PTSD was created as a result of a few people lobbying a psychiatric association.

It made me wonder: are there any other conditions that don't have names, that could be highly impactful to lobby for getting a condition name?

The benefit of having a name for a condition and particularly for getting into the DSM seems to mean that then insurance companies cover treatments, and researchers and drug companies invest heavily into discovering potential treatments.

It seems plausible that the lobbying could be a high leverage intervention.

Perhaps the ordinary human unhappiness that Freud and Michael Plant have written about could be lobbied into creation of a separate diagnosis? What other symptoms could potentially be impactful to be grouped together and turned into a medical diagnosis?

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Aaron Gertler

May 17, 2019


My impression is that the "medicalization" of "ordinary" human feelings gets a lot of criticism from writers on every part of the political spectrum, but I don't know whether an expert perspective might show these definitions to actually be beneficial.

PTSD seems like a reasonably good case of a definition being helpful, while counterpoints may include ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (based on complaints I've read; I don't personally have an opinion on whether those diagnostic categories are net-positive). This isn't to say that people diagnosed with ADHD shouldn't have medication available to them; instead, some writers argue that children are often diagnosed and overmedicated as a result of behavior that comes standard in humans of that age.

As for your question: What are conditions that can be helped by legal medicine or therapy that aren't currently covered by existing diagnoses? Nothing springs immediately to mind for me, though I wouldn't be surprised if there are major gaps I'm not aware of.

Your example, "ordinary human unhappiness", seems like it wouldn't respond very well to medication unless it was already classifiable as minor depression. Is there evidence that antidepressants improve the well-being of people without depression?

Grief was previously considered different from depression, but with the DSM-5 it's no longer a reason to rule out a depression diagnosis. It's unclear how much antidepressants help with grief (and people have mixed feelings about whether medical treatment for grief is appropriate).