There are a couple of people who sometimes respond to my threads who don’t like it when I say we shouldn’t be calling people mentally ill just because we don’t like them or act in ways that we don’t like. I think it is time for me to outline what is required to make a diagnosis:
- You have to be trained as a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. (Most “experts” or the “peanut crunching crowd” are not.)
- You have to have actually examined the person. This goes beyond watching them on television or reading about them in magazines or newspapers.
- You have to use proper diagnostic criteria.
- You must be neutral. Most of the pseudo-diagnoses that I have seen fail magnificently on this score. In my experience, progressives are the worst, but this does not exonerate others including conservatives.
- You must have the patient’s welfare in mind, not an opportunity to insult.
- You must avoid stigmatizing people with mental illness who are not anything like the person you are diagnosing. E.g. By saying that terrorists are mentally ill, you are implying that people who are mentally ill are like terrorists. (Research shows that people with mental illness are less likely to be violent than the normal population.