Researchers Concerned About Rise in Psychiatric Self-Diagnosing

Researchers link self-diagnosing to concept creep and express “concerns about pathologization of everyday life.”


In a new study, researchers found that those who had broader ideas of what a psychiatric disorder includes were more likely to diagnose themselves and to want psychiatric help. They found that this was true even after accounting for distress, impairment, mental health literacy, and stigma.

Additionally, they found that younger people and those with liberal-leaning views were more likely to self-diagnose with a psychiatric condition and more likely to want psychiatric help.

“Self-diagnosis in the narrow sense can foster help-seeking,” the researchers write, “but can also promote overdiagnosis, over-utilization of services, and maladaptive coping and loss of perceived control over one’s condition.”

The study was conducted by Jesse S.Y. Tse and Nick Haslam at the University of Melbourne, and published in SSM – Mental Health.

Photo of a white woman reflected in five mirrors holding her head


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  1. We need to step back and see what value is there in descriptions and diagnosis for psychological difficulties. Really, every mind is it’s own unique life system, with different tendencies, energy levels and strengths and weaknesses which are all the product of the life experience and the traumas etc experienced, so really each mind is like it’s own unique ecosystem. However, at the same time the mind does have a universal structure within it: there is the thinking mind and affective or heart aspect, there is awareness, and there are other levels for example the instinctual which can convey it’s content through imagination, and what we call the unconscious. But we only ever learn about this deep structure through self-observation of consciousness through the brain. This the east call meditation, but it’s how all genuine psychology comes about, otherwise it is a fraudulent, speculative, merely theoretical psychology which granted probably has a large foothold in clinical psychiatry, which is worthless from the point of view of meditation anyway. If people could understand the value of the uninfluenced observation and through observing, understanding of the content of their own mind and feelings and life then naturally they would start to do so, and because the understanding of psychology and psychiatry and society is lagging so far behind the development of human understanding (which is non-linguistic and there is always a lag between understanding and articulation of that understanding through words and social discourses) then they cannot promote a culture of the kind of self-observation and understanding that is necessary not just to understand and resolve our psychological problems, but also to heal and resolve our social and environmental problems, because they are not seperate problems. Society expresses the dysfunctions in human understanding, language, thinking and consciousness because society is our thought and feeling materializing itself through our socially conditioned action. So we have to understand that all social and political problems are related to the fundamental crisis in human consciousness, because the tools it tries to fix it’s problems – the intellect, theories, strategies etc – ARE the problem. Our human problems do not require solutions – they require true understanding, which means perception, observation and understanding, otherwise solutions will be based on our socially conditioned ignorance which is the very cause of our problems in the first place. You can’t clear up the consequences of sloppy thinking with sloppy thinking. So we will never solve our social or psychological problems as a collective, and this will tear our society apart as it has already torn the Earth and humanity apart by the seams.

    So going back to the original problem of self-diagnosis, do we see that the only truth of these problems is in the large-scale context of a dysfunctional, corrupt and destructive social process and the social conditioning of the brain and organism and compulsions which produce the psychological problems? All our problems are one, obviously, because the total social historical process and the whole of humanity are one total system. And if we just seek to observe and understand this one, which is vastly too complex for theory and book reading to master, then don’t all of our responses to social and psychological problems become informed by clarity? Because clarity is only to be found in perception. It may also produce clear thinking and speaking, but clear thinking and speaking is not clarity. It is the perception behind it which is clarity, and clarity is perception undistorted by thinking, judging, concluding, theorizing, believing or disbelieving and so forth. You guys need to radicalize your perspectives on mental health by seeing it always in the context of the full human crisis globally and socially, otherwise everything you say on these issues will ultimately not have the full relevance and gravity it should have, and all discussion becomes merely technocratic and consequently, impotent. I’m sorry for being so remorselessly critical, but if what I say is correct, then criticism would seem the only means of bringing it to your attention.

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    • “Our human problems do not require solutions — they require true understanding, which means perception, observation and understanding, otherwise solutions will be based on our socially conditioned ignorance which is the very cause of our problems in the first place.”

      I think the only real “mental illness” is ego inflation, a personality quirk I kept finding in people who call themselves “therapists”.

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  2. @No-one…thank you for the amazing comment.

    To add a bit more:
    If psychiatry were using methods that we used to call magical (not scientific)—essentially judging and accessing people’s inner worlds and then giving them diagnoses—it makes complete sense that with technology, people would start doing exactly what psychiatry used to do, but outside of the professional setting.

    Now, psychiatrists are not concerned about people diagnosing themselves and even doing a better job; they are worried they might be out of jobs or loss of legitimacy. If people learn from psychiatrists how to diagnose and then do it themselves having much better access to their minds and bodies, psychiatry, by its own actions, would erase itself.

    The real issue is that psychiatrists are more concerned with losing their “value-added – law” system than with people adopting their methods outside of the professional setting.

    Therefore, there are two main issues at conflict here: psychiatrists losing their power and the devaluation of their methods when practiced outside the field which will only stop when the psychiatry themselves say – it was all rubbish* to start with.

    And unfortunately that will not happen. But I foresee a new diagnosis in the pipeline: self-diagnosis will become the next biggest diagnosis to stigmatize.

    *I am not saying mental illness does not exist, I am saying the diagnosis that can be done by others is obviously not mental illness or neurobiological based (because others can do it without training) but these are human normal behaviours and relationship issues that were given pathology by the psychiatry so people can be controlled by their behaviours.

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    • I 100% agree with you mate. We could reconstruct a true psychiatry by ourselves as sufferers. The form they offer is fraudulent social management of problems caused by a blind social system that they themselves will never understand because they already decided it was the fault of the brain of Mother Nature. What an absurdity beyond measure.

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  3. In 2013 Obama urged teachers to help identify mental health disorders and seek help for students. President Clinton did the same with the first ever mental health conference in 2001. Every succeeding President, including state and municipal politicians, have repeated the same false ideology. The majority of schools now have mandatory mental health programs which indoctrinate the young to self diagnose themselves and their peers. Governments have also poured millions of dollars into disease awareness and anti stigmatisation campaigns to get the public to accept the belief they need antidepressants and anti anxiety pills to cure their malfunctioning brains. This scenario was predicted in Brave New World.
    Blaming Tic Toc and other private entities is missing the big picture. Clearly the government has entered a partnership with Big Pharma and its allies.
    Consumers need to direct their opposition to the corruption of the federal government and demand they cease their false propaganda.

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  4. I seems to me that what this study amounts to is an attempt to measure the success of psychiatric propaganda.

    While this propaganda has had a wide effect, it was only effective in pushing certain personality types into the hands of psychiatrists.

    Those actually “impaired” are more likely to be pushed into the mental health system. Those not really “impaired” but who consider themselves sick in some way are more likely to enter the system voluntarily.

    For me this involves a lot of irony. The current system, even as it seeks to increase its client base by inventing and popularizing various disorders, is destroying the whole subject of “mental health” with its medical model and its poor results (indicated by – if nothing else – the statistics of increasing distress in the population).

    From my point of view, most people are weak in at least some area of life and could benefit from some sort of humane and NON-MEDICAL assistance. Yet the current “mental health” system is not providing that sort of assistance, for the most part.

    Further, the system does not even recognize “higher” forms of mental functioning that many people would like to enhance. This is the true “client base” for a REAL mental health system, and yet is being ignored or forced into damaging medical “treatments” instead of being truly helped.

    Real mental health is based on a recognition of the reality of Spirit. The current “mental health” system refuses to do this and thus produces, for the most part, just more mental damage.

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  5. Oh god, what a bunch of BS. Guys, people like KateL here have been writing for ages about how their lives have gone to the dogs due to psychiatric labelling, treatments etc.

    Has a SINGLE contributor on MIA ever reached out to someone like her or ANY of the other people who post their grievances and helped them out in any way rather than publish article after article about some or the other bullshit study?

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  6. (Isn’t it interesting women are supposed to do breast self-exams but not mental self-exams?) I will speak for my self, and perhaps for others. From my own experience with schizophrenia, I have found that being an advocate for myself, educating myself, and going to a doctor with data-in-hand has been the only way to elicit ANY kind of help. Whether it is help finding housing, employment, disability income, treatment, or family involvement. It seems to me that Mad in America first castigates psychiatry and the psychiatrist, then it decries diagnosis and treatment, and now it is shaming the consumer/patient for seeking answers. We as sufferers must arm ourselves in this sea of conflict and by opposing the worst of it hope to find someone somewhere with some kind of compassion and knowledge that will listen and help. Speaking for myself, if I do not find a way to describe my symptoms in a manner familiar to the psychiatrist, then on what basis do we have a meaningful dialogue? I have to speak his/her language in order to connect. Psychiatrists in particular seem particularly poorly equipped to see what they are looking at or understand what they are hearing. I am not trying to diagnose myself, I am trying to find common ground for a reasonable discussion. Otherwise, the psychiatrist does not engage. He/she only tosses off a prescription.

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  7. One should not have to (though you have to right now) rely on the mercy and charity of another human being, whether he is a psychiatrist or whoever else for every little thing in their life.

    They don’t “diagnose” anything in psychiatry anyway. A diagnosis explains why you have an issue. COVID is one potential diagnosis for having a fever (could also be malaria, chicken pox or whatever). It explains why you have a fever. Psychiatric “diagnoses” are just rewordings of behaviour. That’s why you see long term patients have 6-10 “diagnoses”. People should have the right to not have any psychiatric “diagnoses” on their files.

    Self-“diagnose” away. You’re just trying to figure out what you’re going through. The “diagnosis” you want to attach to your suffering is irrelevant. It helps mental health workers and makes their job easier more than it helps you. They’ll give 10 justifications for why it is correct to “diagnose” patients in psychiatry, each more senseless than the next. People who end up as patients will justify that behaviour of their beloved psychiatrists like kapos, not even realising that they’re basically screwing themselves over and also other people along with them.

    Also, a commenter above stated going to a psychiatrist with “data-in-hand”. They’ll be happy to see a person as long as the “data-in-hand” is convenient to them. Provide them with “data” that psychiatric diagnoses are damaging and stigmatising, and their attitude will completely change because they’ve done that to hundreds of people in their career. They’ll become stern, defensive or simply say it’s random bullshit on the internet or anecdotal experience. They will condescend, gaslight, manipulate and lie through their teeth to justify what they do. One shouldn’t have to rely on people like that.

    Drug legalisation in small personal quantities (so that you don’t need a prescription from them every time), patient collaborations, AI tools (chatGPT actually gives really good explanations for issues sometimes: better than mental healthworkers) etc. will put more power in suffering people’s hands and less on some random person who has done a course in mental health and is out looking for his own career first with your well-being being second.

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    • I agree. It is a messed up situation. It’s a shame that there’s not a more organic way of addressing suffering, and not have to find help that is “managed” by the constraints of billing codes and insurance requirements. There are organic ways, but it’s not like we know these things instinctively. For there to be help for the masses I can see why there has to be an organized system and policies and such, but it’s a shame that the individual gets lost. And that’s each of us. It’s just not working as-is.

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  8. Psychiatric “diagnoses” are opinions only, “professional” or otherwise. Which means it’s not unheard for two different practitioners to come up with two different “diagnoses” FOR THE SAME PERSON!

    And guess what? One of them might even be of the opinion that no “diagnosis” is called for —

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    • Absolutely. I was under the care of the same psychiatrist for 20 years. He diagnosed me with chronic schizoprhenia and I saw him at least once every 3 months all those years. Suddenly one day, he was sitting there behind his desk twirling his pen and looking out the window as he talked to me. And he made the pronouncement that he was probably wrong about the schizophrenia and he was beginning to think I had a “conversion disorder” instead. What? Where did that come from? Yet he said if I did not continue to take the antipsychotics as prescribed, I would end up right back in the hospital again. Is this psychiatric gaslighting? Or am I allowed to use the term gaslighting. Am I allowed to look up “conversion disorder” and decide for myself. Am I allowed…? This is my own body and brain we are talking about, right?

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  9. I’ve become very frustrated with Mad In America. I’ve used this site for the past 11 years now. I really appreciate Robert Whitaker because he used to respond one-on-one in the early days and he gave so many of us a platform to talk on and undid a lot of psychiatry propaganda and gaslighting that anyone who says anything against psychiatrists is a scientologist, an anti-vaxxer or in denial of their illness and crap like that.

    My irritation is not with Robert Whitaker or the existence of this site. It is mainly with who is constantly allowed to write articles on here. Have ANY of the writers here, i.e. the psychiatrists, GPs, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other people in power who write articles and debate studies on here done ANYTHING to address the grievances of anyone who writes here as a patient, commenter etc.? Has even a single one of them reached out even to long time posters on their articles or this website? Did they provide them legal help? Medical help? I’m talking about in-real-life help, not simply some ocassional few words on this website as a reply to something.

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    • I second your objections, registeredforthissite. I get the feeling that to a large extent it’s essentially an outlet for “psy professionals” looking to promote their book or wanting articles to point to for their curriculam vitae.

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      • Pretty much that is what it has become. People who don’t have those credentials and don’t have power, their lives are still going to the dogs and they’re left ranting in the comments section. They still face maltreatment and gaslighting due to their “diagnoses”, still suffer from the effects of horrible drugs, still face issues seeking medical treatment without doctors looking at them like nutjobs, still often live with economic hardships etc.

        There needs to be something new where the first preference is the people who are going through problems due to the mental health industry. Not professionals in that industry themselves!

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        • It’s disgusting how often people like us are just written off as nothing more than collateral damage, especially by the so-called “psy professionals” who imo selfishly comfort themselves by thinking “out of sight, out of mind”. Which is why I think just wanting to be a professional therapist is a huge red flag.

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