The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf

The rich folks suffer like the rest of us

The simultaneously vague and dehumanizing use of "defective" as a noun encapsulates an important difference between the psychiatry of Walter Freeman's day and psychiatry as we know it now. And yes, "rectal neurosis" was something you could be diagnosed with. It's in the DSM-I, which you can download as a PDF here. As I understand it, back in the day it kind of didn't matter what you got diagnosed with specifically; the distinction that mattered was whether you had a psychosis or a neurosis. A psychosis was stuff like schizophrenia that no one had any real idea how to fix, so you were shit out of luck, and a neurosis was stuff like depression that you could maybe fix with psychoanalysis or, if that didn't help, they'd stick you full of insulin or run a few hundred volts through your brain and see if that had any effect. But the specific diagnosis wasn't so important. Rectal neurosis meant your mind was somehow making your ass hurt, just as gastric neurosis meant your mind was somehow making your guts hurt, and cardiac neurosis meant your mind was somehow making your heart hurt, and so on. I think we mostly call that a panic attack now. This stuff is a bit less of a black box these days, but not always by a whole lot.

But we do have lots of spiffy new names, which certainly gives the impression of understanding (which is also, incidentally, why people anxious to seem knowledgeable say utilize instead of use). I certainly do not have neurotic depression; I have dysthymia. For sure no one has an inadequate personality these days. Can you imagine being diagnosed with that? You can tell just from the names that no one had any expectation of being able to fix these problems. It's like the song in which Warren Zevon's doctor diagnoses him with "fucked-up shit":

Relevant to the subject of nomenclature is an idea dorothy_parka had recently. As you may know, every damn disorder in the DSM-IV has a number, a feature that dates back the early days when the DSM was, I believe, more of a tool for filling out insurance forms than anything else. Dot (also the name of one of Walter's sisters, incidentally) suggests T-shirts with diagnostic codes on them:

Of course that's just a guess on my part about Walter. But they look good, right? I want a real one now.
Tags: beautiful men, dysthymia, never say "utilize" at all, operation cease and desist letter, sex, stix, walter freeman, warren zevon
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