2 replies on “Let us now praise shyness”

  1. This article exemplifies a fairly common argument made against “pathologizing” particular disorders listed in the DSM. Roughly, the argument goes that the listed symptoms sound like things we all have from time to time, therefore this is an attempt by the psychiatric community to take perfectly normal behavior and treat it as pathological. For bonus points, infer conspiracy or an attempt to grow the customer base by the APA.

    You can make this argument against virtually everything in the DSM. For example, let’s take autism. Here are the diagnostic criteria as listed in the DSM-IV. I think I’ve personally experienced most of these from at some point in my life, but I’m not autistic. So autism is a sham, right?

    Well, obviously not. In order to actually be diagnosed with autism, you have to experience a good number of these symptoms, very frequently, and most importantly, to a point where it interferes with your life.

    So if you’re generally a shy person but you’re able to live a perfectly normal life despite that, great. If you’re extremely shy, it impacts your life in multiple ways, and you find that it is actually making life harder for you, well, maybe you could benefit from professional help.

  2. The author states:

    Of course, it’s easy to scoff: to deride all these fancy new phobias and the fancy new pills they’re treating them with. Particularly if you are, like me, unhampered by anything resembling actual scientific or psychiatric knowledge.

    Which I guess is about as close as he is willing to get to admitting that social anxiety disorder may be a valid ailment. But the bulk of the article is about “shyness,” not about SAD.

    Having recently read about The Americanization of Mental Illness, however, I’m just as likely to question all of the assumptions, including the DSM.

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