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We live in a results oriented society that expects when we see the doctor we leave with something - a medication, a regimen or  diagnosis and this is no different in the field of psychiatry.

It feels good to have a word to explain what we're going through, to be able to find others like us, and to feel as though in some ways those symptoms are no longer a part of us - they're a part of the disorder.

STILL, many psychiatrists prefer to work without a diagnosis at all.

They worry that by giving a diagnosis, they are actually causing the person to identify more with a certain disorder and thus exhibit more of the symptoms or more sever symptoms than they would have without one.

So, what do YOU think is better? To have or not to have a a diagnosis?

Erin Froehlich asked this
July 21, 2011 at 4:03 PM



Hmmm...this is a tough one. In many ways, I think it's good to have a diagnosis. The father of one of my dear friends has bipolar disorder, and while it is by no means easy to deal with, having the diagnosis does help because they know what's making him act a certain way. I know another woman who has bipolar disorder, and before I knew she had it, one day she lashed out at me in public and I was extremely hurt. I think I would have been more understanding if I had known of her diagnosis.

Having said that, I'm guessing it depends on the individual patient. Some may be more likely to benefit from a diagnosis than others.

Laura Hogg answered
July 22, 2011 at 9:28 AM

That is a difficult question. I say this because I think it brings to light the underlying reason that people go to a psychologist/psychiatrist. They go for answers and a diagnosis puts a face to the issue they may be having, provides them with an aim for their frustration and a first step on the way to handling the ailment. Of course there will be different types of patients that benefit less from a diagnosis, but no diagnosis due to the patient not being able to handle it is still a diagnosis.

John answered
August 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM

But should the psychiatrist offer that diagnosis to the patient? Names and labels can be a powerful thing - they alter a person's identity.

Are they someone with some issues to work through or do they have a condition?

Are they in control of the situation or is the situation out of their hands - something that is happening to them?

This discussion brings to mind and blog I wrote awhile back after listening to an interview with the author of "Crazy Like Us", a book the way America sets the pace for the psychiatric practices around the world. They bring up the fact that certain diagnosis go in and out of style. That a "condition" or "disorder" might be subjective. For example - for a long time, the makers of Prozac wanted to expand to huge population of Japan, but it was thought impossible because the Japanese didn't think of sadness - even extreme sadness - as a problem or medical condition. To them, it was a natural reaction, and certain people, with their unique personalities, were just more prone to it than others. Prozac had to first sell them on the idea of "depression" before they would sell their solution to it.

Another unique example takes place in Zanzibar, where schizophrenic people are revered for their connection with the spiritual realm, but ostracized from people if given the diagnosis "schizophrenic".

Erin Froehlich answered
August 31, 2011 at 9:57 AM
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