Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Syndromes. Chances are you suffer from one or more of them. These days there are labels for practically everything under the sun.

Do you compulsively pick the skin of your fingers and bite your fingernails? Perhaps you suffer from dermatillomania and/or onycophagia.

Do you get so angry that you explode sometimes in episodes of rage? Do you throw or break stuff when you are angry? You might suffer from intermittent explosive disorder.

Do you have trouble focusing at work? Are you a chronic procrastinator? Do you get bored easily and find it hard to pay attention when something is repetitive? Is your house a mess? Is your sink full of dirty dishes? A diagnosis of attention deficit disorder may be in store for you.

Do you feel intense sadness sometimes for no particular reason? Are you afflicted by feelings of dread? Do you have trouble sleeping at night? You may be clinically depressed.

Do you drink too much, smoke compulsively, use drugs? Are you a religious zealot? You could be suffering from addiction.

I could go on and on and on. Some of these labels have affected me personally. Others have touched friends or loved ones.

What is one to do? On the one hand, I think looking at some of this phenomena in a scientific light is an improvement over blaming everything on character flaws or considering that someone is lazy, indulgent, or a drama queen/king. On the other hand, I am not sure that the cure to all these problems is popping pills or looking for clues in one's past. There is also the danger of biological determinism, of people just giving up (it's genetic, why fight it?), embracing their labels and not working on overcoming whatever handicaps they have been dealt.

What do you guys think?


  1. I know I am clinically depressed, but I was only medicated for it once. It has been over ten years since I have taken any meds for it and though I have my down days, I think I am doing just fine. I think that there are too many things that are being invented by the pharmaceutical companies, however, to develop new drugs to make money.

  2. I blogged a bit about labels a while back. I have a lot of diagnoses in my family and overall I think they've been helpful in understanding what the problems are and how to work on them.

  3. I think that labels are both good and bad. They are good in that they help us understand some of the things we struggle with and realize that we are not alone in the struggle. They are bad if we use them to hide behind, and an excuse, as you noted, to make no attempt to overcome. I've had to refine my view of labels dealing with mental illness after watching what my daughter goes thru, before that I thought the whole "depression" thing really was a lot of drama, not I KNOW it isn't!

  4. I think that is the benefit of labels, to take something out of the realm of "character" and giving it a name and shape. The idea is that when we know what we are up against, we can conquer it.

    I did benefit greatly from the awareness that my Major Depression was a chemical imbalance and not weakness of character. And in cases like your daughter, Josie, awareness can be life-saving. But I also know that in today's medical culture, like Pen suggests, everything that gets a name gets a prescription, and too many people are medicated that do not seem to need it. And I am not sure that my picking at my nails and cuticles needs to be treated with meds.

  5. I have been labeled with many a title, from clinically depressed, to manic, with OCD tenancies, suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

    I hated being labeled. I feel like people would never take me seriously if I was just some 'crazy' girl.

    For years after I was labeled I used pills, drugs, alcohol as ways to self medicate.

    I also underwent specific and lengthy therapy for many years.

    I have good days and bad days. JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD.

    I dont think I am the 'character' associated with those labels anymore.

    Ever since I entered my 30's something seems to have changed inside of me. I cannot explain how or why.

    And no, I am SURE you do not need meds to stop picking at your nails and cuticles

  6. "I have good days and bad days. JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD."

    I loved that, Meleah. And it is so relevant to what's on my mind lately. A family member is struggling with some issues. I have shown some support and he thanked me for supporting him in his quest to be "normal", to which I replied that everybody falls at some point, and needs a bit of help to get up and walk again. Does "normal" even exist?

  7. Quien no se ha deprimido? Unos mas que otros pero en estos momentos es bien importante dejarte saber que se te quiere mucho y de gratis......

  8. ¿Norma? ¡Hola!! Un abrazo grandote para ti.

  9. Have I told you Ingrid how gorgeous you are in that pic?? My god. ;) Your lil' one, too. Just had to say you're a raven beauty.