Everyone is crazy, so why not me?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 February, 2012, 12:00am


I have not been certified as insane but judging by some new or modified categories listed in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, I may need to consult a psychiatrist very soon.

For example, a new mental illness listed in the manual - published by the American Psychiatric Association and considered the bible in the field - is oppositional defiant disorder. It seems to be a lifelong condition, as I have been experiencing symptoms since primary school. If only the teachers and Jesuits at my old school had known about it, they might have been more forgiving with me. Another is apathy syndrome. This is a recurring condition, as I never get excited by Apple's latest iPhone or iPad release.

But getting too excited about these products may also be a disorder. I am pretty sure my children, and most of their schoolmates, all suffer from internet addiction disorder.

I have no psychiatric training, but I offer a refinement of the concept here, as its name seems to have been rendered obsolete by technology. We have moved from housebound desktops to mobile computing. It's now common to see around town friends or colleagues sitting at a dining table in a restaurant without any interaction as everyone plays with their smartphones. I propose we call it i-addiction disorder.

And gambling is a disorder. Given Mark Six and horse and soccer betting, our whole town may be mad. At least my whole family is, including some of our pets.

Some years ago, when my dog treated my whole flat as if it was a big toilet, the vet said she suffered from 'separation anxiety'. He gave me a 1960s drug used to treat humans that had been modified by Novartis for pets and cost 10 times as much as the human generic.

There's a lesson here. Drug companies and mental health professionals love a new disorder - as another potential money-spinner.