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A Proposal to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder

In 1992, psychiatrist Richard Bentall wrote an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics proposing that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder. Here's his abstract:

It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains--that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant.


Link via J-Walk Blog | Photo by Flickr user thephotographymuse used under Creative Commons license

That is so ridiculous! Pretty soon every single emotion is going to be classified as a disorder, and of course big pharma is going to be there to supply one with the right pill to take to 'cure' that disorder. Madness.
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I came home from work the other day and my wife said that I was acting weird, you know playing with my kid and laughing out loud. It was abnormal for me to be in a happy mood with out any outside *cough* influence so I guess I need a downer pill for these abnormal occurences. Thanks Dr. Bentall for bringing this to light.
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There is such a thing is abnormal optimism which can cause delusions of grandeur (and extreme cases at that), but this guy is just an idiot and it's good to hear his theory was dismissed.

@Jdoozie

So what’s the correct alternative?
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Honestly.. I kinda have to agree with the psychiatrist. When viewed scientifically, happiness and sadness are equally "abnormal", it's just that we're sociologically conditioned to believe happiness is more "acceptable" and sadness is "unacceptable".

That's not to say we should go around be totally emotionless... but that swings to either extreme are unhealthy. (IE = the "middle-way" of tempering your emotions and being cognitively aware.. is probably "most healthy")
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This has to be a joke.

By definition, an emotion that the vast majority of people have felt on a regular basis since the beginning of our species CAN'T be "statistically abnormal". "Abnormal" means "uncommon" - if something as ubiquitous as happiness can be consider abnormal, then almost anything can.

Either A) Bentall is satirizing that point, B) he's an idiot, or C) he's done a really poor job of outlining his thesis.
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It's never going to happen. Statistical abnormality is not a sufficient basis for something to be included in the DSM as a disorder. In order to be included they generally have to cause significant distress to the individual or others.

E.g. if someone had all the symptoms of OCD except that they rather enjoy the obsessions and compulsions and neither they or others experience distress as a result, then technically according to the DSM they can't be diagnosed with OCD.

@Jdoozie, don't assume than this sort of proposal is representative of psychiatry/psychology. It's just never going to happen. There are tonnes of legitimate psychological disorders that are yet to be included in the DMS because researchers are still gathering evidence to classify it as such.
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Actually it sucks that this didn't get accepted, because it would contribute to discrediting the entire field of psychiatry, and the idea of being different from the "statistically normal person" being a disease that needs "curing".
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Here we go again. Someone dredges up an almost 20-year-old item from someone who was desperate for a thesis, and the nutcases/scientologists all take it as an opportunity to dump on an entire branch of knowledge.
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In fact, this scientific paper clearly states that reading more than the abstract of a scientific paper is highly correlated with unhappiness.

Based on various studies, it is recommended to only read the title of anything (be it a scientific paper, a blog post, or the label on a cereal box) and use imagination to fill it with comforting meanings.
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Psychiatrists have been trying to classify everyone as insane. The DSM 5 is going to be a huge joke. After it is published, no one in the world can be considered normal.

Following that, the drug companies will be marketing new drugs for you, your kids, your family. All in the name of profits.

cchr.org is a good source of info about the truth behind psychiatry and Big Pharma.
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@Matt

"Psychiatrists have been trying to classify everyone as insane. The DSM 5 is going to be a huge joke. After it is published, no one in the world can be considered normal."

Riduculous exaggerations and blanket statements only serve to make you look even more like a crazy conspiracy theorist...not that you need any more help in that department.
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Happy people are simply better at deluding themselves. Ignorance is indeed bliss. And since so many people are so very ignorant, happiness is quite normal.
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If you read more than just the title and/or abstract of this article, you will find that the author was actually satirizing the process and criteria by which psychiatric disorders are defined.
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