Sunday, July 21

The Debate Heats Up; are we pathologizing normal behavior?

MD researcher replies to concern over the “DSMing” of everyday life.

This week Dr. Johnathan D. Raskin, State University of New York at New Paltz, published an article in Psychology today expressing concern over a trend of pathologizing normal human behavior in a piece titled Is “Maladaptive Daydreaming” a Mental Disorder?, and put forward that Maladaptive Daydreaming is an overt example of this trend.

This proposed new disorder epitomizes the “DSM-ing” of everyday life, in which any upsetting or problematic experience is readily assimilated into the lexicon of mental disorder. Surely there are people who daydream more than they would like, and some of them might even encounter relational or work difficulties as a result. However, this is true for lots of things. Many of us work long days and don’t exercise sufficiently. Do we have “work-focused lack of exercise disorder”? Others of us stream television shows more than we’d like. Are we suffering from “Netflix preoccupation disorder”?

Dr. Nirit Soffer Dudek, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, reacted to this in her own article in Psychology Today, Why We Should Take Maladaptive Daydreaming Seriously, highlighting a few points that suggest MD is not on par with “streaming television shows more than we’d like”.

Although I am tempted to diagnose myself with this suggested malady, I remain very conscious of the fact that I am a functional, productive person, whereas our studies have shown that maladaptive daydreamers (MDers) are suffering immensely. In one study, almost half the sample was unemployed and over a quarter of the sample had attempted suicide at least once (Soffer-Dudek & Somer, 2018). In another study, most of the sample met the criteria for 3-4 different DSM diagnoses (Somer, Soffer-Dudek, & Ross, 2017).

You can read the full articles on Psychology Today:
Dr Raskins article can be found, in full, HERE
And HERE for Dr Soffer-Dudek’s rebuttle.

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