A Mother’s Response to the NY Times’ “Sunday Dialogue: Defining Mental Illness”


As a mother of a 25 year old son who took his life fourteen months ago, I completely disagree that the forthcoming DSM-5, with its expanding diagnoses, will lessen the stigma. Surely, when my husband and I found our sons’s body, “grief” – the human emotion for something so profoundly horrifying, the most catastrophic devastation that life can possible bring a parent – should not be pathologized as a “mental illness” after two weeks, per the “psychiatric bible”‘s newest revision.

The fact that in America the APA Is actually twisting a normal, human emotion – situational sadness/grief when a parent discovers their first-born child’s body – into a diagnosis of mental illness is reprehensible.

Just what, Dr. Pies, is “eminently humanizing” about being stigmatized with a mental illness diagnosis and just how is being labeled by psychiatry the true gateway to relief of a parent’s suffering?

The other pathetic joke with psychiatry in the 21st century is the notion that mental illness diagnoses are carried out “carefully and respectively.” Just when is the last time Dr. Pies and his colleagues have been on the other side to see how patient’s diagnoses are anything but a rush to judgement?

The last time my son had an appointment with his out-patient psychiatrist he vowed never to return because the visit was less than 5 minutes in duration, with the psychiatrist never looking up from his laptop as he hurled questions about my son’s mental health status – never engaging him in dialogue or attempting to listen to how he was or wasn’t doing – just answer the questions on compliance with meds. My son said “To be treated as less than a human beng is so degrading” and this is the care that even people with PPO insurance receive today. If this is the future of psychiatry where every human emotion will be medicalized: how horrifying.

It is reported that almost 70% of the task force members associated with the DSM-5 revision have financial ties to Big Pharma; what doesn’t smell repulsive in psychiatry today?

Lori Robinson has a master’s degree in nutritional science and has worked in health care (as a Reg Dietitian) for 30+ years. She currently works as a registered dietitian in nephrology.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. It saddens me greatly to hear about the loss of your son.

    I was a hospital and nursing home chaplain for a number of years. I have some experience with grief, with my own and with that of others. I know something about what goes on. I was always against the DSM but this business with two weeks of grief and then you’re mentally ill is just the ultimate in laughable and stupid quackery. I can’t believe that this ridiculous “diagnosis” alone, without any of the other trumped up “diagnoses,” wouldn’t be enough to turn the general public against the DSM and against psychiatry. But the general public have become sheep.

    Thank you for speaking out.

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