Think that some of President Bush's judicial nominees are 'out of the mainstream'? Worried that John Bolton may not have the temperament to represent the U.S. at the U.N.? If some Republicans get their way, there may soon be an official diagnosis of what really ails you: political paranoia disorder.
American Psychiatric Association approves the inclusion of "Political Paranoia" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
By Hermione Slatkin, medical correspondent
NEW YORK, NY—When Zacharia Goodman recently sought out the help of a therapist, it was no mystery as to what was ailing him. The 27-year-old copy editor was so consumed by his belief that President George W. Bush stole the 2004 election that he was having trouble sleeping, completing rudimentary tasks at work, and carrying on conversations about topics not related to politics.
The therapist he consulted wrote Goodman a prescription for the social anxiety drug Paxil and encouraged him to spend less time reading left-wing Web logs and listening to Air America.
This particular story has a happy ending; Goodman admits that he's already far less irritating to be around than he was just a few weeks ago. But countless paranoids just like him may be going untreated, say mental health professionals. The reason: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM presently excludes political paranoia from its 933 pages of symptoms, diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
Democrat or just demented?
Now a group of Republican lawmakers is hoping that they can do something about the problem. Early this summer, Senator Bill Frist, the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928, plans to file a bill that would define "political paranoia" as a mental disorder, paving the way for individuals who suffer from paranoid delusions regarding voter fraud, political persecution and FBI surveillance to receive Medicare reimbursement for any psychiatric treatment they receive.
Rick Smith, a spokesman for Senator Frist, says that the measure has a good chance of passing—something that can only help a portion of the population that is suffering significant distress.
"If you're still convinced that President Bush won the election because Republicans figured out a way to hack into electronic voting machines, you've obviously got a problem," says Smith. "If we can figure out a way to ease your suffering by getting you into therapy and onto medication, that's something that we hope the entire 109th Congress will support."
A vocal supporter
GOP Congressmen aren't the only ones committed to helping Zacharia Goodman and the tens of millions of Americans who are believed to have contracted political paranoia disorder. Popular conservative radio host Michael Savage has also joined the call to help those suffering from this devastating illness. In his new book, "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder," Mr. Savage shares his observations of the affliction he likens to a national cancer.
While the talk show host has yet to endorse Senator Frist's bill—Mr. Savage would like to see Medicare and other socialist-type programs repealed as they are not explicitly mention in the United States Constitution—he is expected to join with the GOP Senate leader this summer in a series of town hall meetings entitled "Helping Your Liberal Neighbor: America Confronts a Mental Disorder."
A meeting of the minds
Of course, while Congress can pass laws defining mental disorders, the ultimate decision regarding the inclusion of political paranoia disorder in the next version of the DSM isn't up to legislators—or activist judges—but to psychiatrists. The entire assembly of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) cleared the way for that move at their recent national assembly in May.
This won't be the first time that the APA has bowed to political pressure to add or delete common mental disorders. In 1973, the APA removed homosexuality from the massive psychiatric desk reference. The 1987 publication of DSM-III-R deleted ego-dystonic homosexuality as well.
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