Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Therapeutic Nation: Half of College-Age People Had “Psychiatric Episode” in Last Year


Ba-lo-ney! A study claims that nearly half of our young people of college age have had a psychiatric episode in the last year. From the study:
Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year. The overall rate of psychiatric disorders was not different between college-attending individuals and their non–college-attending peers. The unadjusted risk of alcohol use disorders was significantly greater for college students than for their non–college-attending peers (odds ratio = 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.50), although not after adjusting for background sociodemographic characteristics (adjusted odds ratio = 1.19; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-1.44). College students were significantly less likely (unadjusted and adjusted) to have a diagnosis of drug use disorder or nicotine dependence or to have used tobacco than their non–college-attending peers. Bipolar disorder was less common in individuals attending college. College students were significantly less likely to receive past-year treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders than their non–college-attending peers.
Of course, that depends on what is meant by a "psychiatric disorder." We have become such a therapeutic nation, that to get this result must involve what we could call psychiatric disorder inflation. Note, for example that nicotine addiction--smoking--is a psychiatric disorder according to the study. That means my dad was suffering from a psychiatric disorder: We just didn't know it all those years when he diligently supported the family, taught me how to throw a baseball and fish, and provided deep love and friendship to my mother. But apparently, he needed to be on the couch. I think I'll hide that bit of bad news from mom who was wistfully talking about how much she loved her late mate just yesterday.

Boys-being-boys is today, often diagnosed as a psychiatric disorder. I recall when President Bush was reelected, a new psychiatric disorder was created for people upset about the outcome.

In my experience doing family law--which I loathed--psychologists and psychiatrists were often called in to determine what was best for children in custody or visitation disputes. In my experience, the "expert witnesses" were often more messed up than the breaking-apart family.

Everything that hurts, or causes difficulties, or leads to grief is not a psychiatric disorder. Sometimes it is just life. Studies such as this seem more like industry-boosting to me than actual science.

If I am wrong, we are in real trouble. But I don't think I am and so I repeat: Baloney.


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