UD‘s blogpal Allen Frances is currently down the street from her house, at the National Institutes of Health, where UD‘s father spent his whole career as an immunologist. Frances is lecturing to a group of journalists about what he calls diagnostic inflation, or the tendency of the culture, led by profit-seeking pharmaceutical companies, and abetted by the authors of the paradigmatic postmodern work of our time, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illnesses, to designate everyone, from as young an age as possible, mentally ill.
It hasn’t happened yet in this election cycle, but UD anticipates American presidential and vice-presidential debates revolving mainly around a clash of diagnostic claims. You can see how easily it could have been done in this latest round, with Biden’s inappropriate affect, Ryan’s compulsive swallowing, Obama’s first-debate narcolepsy, and (most troubling) Romney’s disclosure at the Al Smith dinner that he hasn’t had an alcoholic drink in sixty-five years. All of these people are mentally ill, and all of the people who will run for these offices in the future are mentally ill. Americans will have a choice between borderline psychotic and psychotic.