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Bitterness To Be Classified As a Mental Illness 511

Some psychiatrists are trying to get excessive bitterness identified as a mental illness named post-traumatic embitterment disorder. Of course this has some people who live perfect little lives, and always get what they want, questioning the new classification. The so called "disorder" is modeled after post-traumatic stress disorder because it too is a response to a trauma that endures. "They feel the world has treated them unfairly. It's one step more complex than anger. They're angry plus helpless," says Dr. Michael Linden, the psychiatrist who put a name to how the world works.


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Bitterness To Be Classified As a Mental Illness

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  • where's my weewee? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IlluminatedOne ( 621945 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:40PM (#28114623)
    It also appears to have no avenue of sexual expression. That too, can be embittering.... All kidding aside, wtf??? I better not be paying into some disability fund for all the cantankerous bastards I know out there...
  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:41PM (#28114639) Homepage Journal

    I have Asperger's. Diagnosed, not self-diagnosed like so many on slashdot.

    Bitterness as a symptom of my Asperger's. This would explain a lot of the "delusions of inadequacy" side of my personality. I work so hard at some stuff that I'm just incapable of, like having a real career where I'm not exploited.

    A lot of my paranoia is related to this as well.

    I'm so lucky to be in a company now that respects my talents, and allows me time to deal with my mental illnesses; but not everybody is that lucky.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:53PM (#28114823)

    Believe it or not, most doctors are motivated by curing or ameliorating the suffering they see so much of. The best psychiatrist I ever had, when I asked him why he chose Psychiatry as his specialty, explained that in surgery and internal medicine rotations most patients came in to the hospital with illnesses that weren't going to improve, really, despite medical intervention Late stage diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. In psychiatry rotations, he got to see patients that were feeling so horrible they honestly wished to die become better because of what he as a doctor could do for them, and that was a tremendously positive experience that he wanted to spend his professional life repeating for others.

  • New definitions... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by WinPimp2K ( 301497 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:54PM (#28114835)

    Liberals who are not happy or content with their lives etc. are not bitter. You need to keep up with the times.

    Bitter people are the ones who cling to their guns and religion - and if these folks are by definition mentally ill, then they can easily (in the legal sense) have their guns removed - for their own protection of course.

    This "medical" definition of bitterness only applies if the religion being clung to is a Christian cult. If a person clings to a "religion" because their "holy man" promises them 72 virgins in paradise for bashing in a child's head with a rifle butt, or blowing themselves up in a crowded marketplace - well that person is not bitter or otherwise mentally ill.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:56PM (#28114861) Homepage Journal

    I've got a good thing going NOW- but it took failing at being a civil servant to get here.

    I've got some niggling little physical symptoms for my Asperger's as well- stimming to the point of rubbing holes in my skin and bleeding (sometimes without noticing); migraines (sun, violins, and vinegar salad dressing are three big triggers); disgraphia (ha, there's a reason to go into software engineering, where one can type rather than write!); spd (sensory perception disorder- aka halucinations).

    I don't understand how anybody with Asperger's would be totally unable to work. Unable to keep a job more than three years in a row due to driving everybody else nuts, yes, but not totally unable to work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:03PM (#28114979)
    There is no bitterness that cannot be cured with a fully loaded 38 special. For the gun-ignorant, a 38 special is a popular revolver that can be purchased (illegally) in most "bad" neighborhoods in San Francisco.

    I own 2 -- one for home use and one for the road. That road sometimes leads to my workplace.

  • by rdavidson3 ( 844790 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:15PM (#28115233)
    A friend has a 6-year old boy with Asperger's as well and I never met a kid that smart in my life. He has noticeable ticks and habits, but the remarkable thing most people remember about him are his reading and writing are at a level I would believe at least 5 grades higher, and remembers everything. And what kind of kid at 6 can do math (multiple and divide 2 and 3 digit numbers) in his head without breaking a sweat; he's a walking calculator.

    Amazing kid.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:19PM (#28115319)

    I can't help but feel that this is just a marketing ploy for the profession that will encourage more FDA approved "happy pills" and psychiatrists visits. Putting medical labels on different emotional states is logically dubious. I'd prefer to live with my depressive realism [wikipedia.org] in peace and without the psychological burden and stigma of being labeled "mentally ill".

    I don't want people to think that I am against psychiatry however (I'll leave any antagonisms for the Scientologists to dish out). There is certainly a continuum of emotional and mental states, most of which are totally illogical (i.e. people often "fall in love" with incompatible mates, which is illogical and perhaps should be labeled a mental illness?). Everybody hallucinates, it's just that most people do it when they are asleep and forget about it unless their REM sleep is interrupted. The "mentally ill" merely fall outside of the normal bell curve for such states.

    There is quackery in all professions unfortunately, and all are in the business of making money.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:01PM (#28116063) Journal

    I'd just love to see Conformity declared a mental illness.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmack ( 197796 ) <gmack&innerfire,net> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:54PM (#28116705) Homepage Journal

    The worst part is that the happy pills often don't work as well as other means.

    A friend of mine who went to the doctor years ago complaining of depression. The doctor gave him Zoloft and he went completely delusional. I went with his mother to drag him back to the doctor and had him explain how he was going to get rich by joining one of the groups that rule the world.

    Doctor's answer? "well maybe we should treat this with diet instead of Zoloft" Turns out some forms of depression can be caused by nutrient imbalance and removing him from the pills at least fixed the delusions.

    Guy lost all but two of his friends because some quack decided that the quick fix was better than the non pill version.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:08PM (#28116823)

    I'm not one to buy into the attempt to turn every inconvencience into another officially-recognized psychiatric disorder with a $100 co-pay solution. However, the description did resonate me, and I can definitely see the difference between "normal travails of life" and what they're describing.

    Let me tell you a bit of my experience:

    In college, I joined a large organization. Soon after, I was kicked out.

    So far, no big deal.

    But when I was kicked out, I was told that "numerous people" felt "physically threatened" by me, and I had *no idea* why that was. Previously, some people that were nice to me had suddenly turned around and refused to talk to me. Nobody would give me any explanation except extremely kafkaesque ones.

    Then, through a coincidental connection I had (cousin's friend had also joined the same time I did) I found that people believed I -- a virgin at the time -- had threatened to rape some of the women there. Soon after, I learned of similar, viscious rumors going on about me.

    I filed a formal complaint about this where I explained everything. Then, again by coincidence, I the writeup and the complaint had been destroyed and no one told me they did so. I appealed to another group, who refused to do anything after meeting with me, on the grounds that I "seem so angry" (ya think?). I appealed to the faculty sponsor of the organizations, and got a letter back saying, in a formal tone, "you deserved what you got, bro".

    Getting kicked out of an organization is bearable, of course, but without being given any reason why, all while being stabbed in the back and having what reputation I had destroyed? I couldn't stop thinking about it for years and years. I did try to "get over it"; I sought conseling (and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety) and tried to join other groups, but inevitably was unable to form any kind of relationship with anyone.

    I've explained my situation on slashdot before (can't find the link right now), and people refused to believe me, insisting that I must have somehow done something wrong. And throughout the whole time, I've noticed that my socialization is fundamentally different from everyone else. People suggest that I do things (in social situations) and then I refuse, saying, "but won't they [do something evil in response]" and people are astounded that I would even imagine something like that.

    I also always feel like I'm in some sort of paralysis in my life, where I don't want to make any changes (like join a group, look for work somewhere else) because every concern feels like it's preventing me from addressing the others. "Angry and helpless" described me perfectly. (I use the past tense because I recently got more intensive help and started going to church, where I have more social support.)

    Would I meet the criteria if I went in to be evaluated? I don't know. But if this diagnosis enables psychiatrists to carry over the same tools from treating PTSD, then it looks legit. It certainly runs the risk of being overdiagnosed, and it would be a shame if it ended up like ADHD, but the idea itself doesn't sound outlandish.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @07:19PM (#28116939) Homepage Journal

    Yes I agree. I was on pills for depression a couple of times. After the first time, when I came off the pills it actually made a lot of things worse in the next few months (but at first I didn't realise that was anything to do with the pills, I just thought it was me being weird until I found out what OCD was, and read that citalopram can actually make some patients' symptoms of depression worse rather than help, so I assume it was that that exaggerated the slight OCDish tendencies I had already of worrying, overthinking and obsessing about patterns, numbers, etc). I told myself I'd never go back on pills again, but I eventually did when I ended up incredibly argumentative and frustrated and sabotaging relationships with my friends and family - I realised that I shouldn't have come off the pills in the first place because I was only fooling myself that I was somehow 'better'. I hadn't dealt with the root of my problems.

    The second time I made sure to lower the dosage slowly when I came off the pills, and things have been pretty good since despite a couple of situations that would have seriously messed me up beforehand. I definitely have developed new ways of looking at life and coping in general that hopefully mean I won't need to go back on meds no matter what happens.

    It's amazing how you can make life so different just by taking a little pill every day. It's scary, in fact, when you think about it. If you ever go on anti-depressants or stop to consider the effects of alcohol, caffeine or other drugs then you will realise how easily that your entire outlook on life can be affected massively by tiny chemical changes. Any tiny problems with either production or reception of certain chemicals inside the brain itself can make it difficult for some people to have what would be regarded as a "strong psyche".. while some are just lucky and seem to be hyperactively happy and positive all the time, blissfully unaware of the world's problems (yeah I'm exaggerating a little, and oftentimes in fact that kind of super-PMA is just a front).

  • Re:American Liberals (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:05PM (#28117877) Journal

    Here's some advice towards happiness from a conservative who is neither ignorant nor without conscience: if you didn't break it, and you can't fix it, stop worrying about it. It is simply not your job to fix all the problems in the world. Your shoulders are not that broad, and you're not expected to carry that weight.

    Instead, focus on this: stop screwing up your own life. Stop screwing up other people's lives through your direct, measurable actions. Take responsibility for (i.e., work to make better) the unintended consequences of your actions. Make your own life good, and spread the goodness to those nearest you. These are things you can actually do.

    Do these things and you'll be happy, because you'll be productive and a service to your community. Spending all day worrying about shit you can't affect in any way just makes you a useless (and sad) lump.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:11PM (#28117929)

    A lot of the nasty side effects happen in people who are messed up, and who take the drug to self medicate. When it doesn't overcome the mental illness, or other factors push the person into unsocial behavior and worse, the drug gets all the blame. (Note that I'm not making this claim about Meth or some of the other drugs that will typically mes anyone on them up. From what I've seen Cocaine and Methamphetamine simply don't allow controlled use in the sufficiently long term.).
            For other cases though, look at LSD. Risky? Definitely. Some people are more prone to not being able to tell the difference between external reality and their internal imagery than others - for them, there's no distinction between the drug's 'visions' and the world outside. Then there's the Manson case, which proved pretty conclusively that young people could be brainwashed better under its influence by a charismatic cult leader. At the same time, regular psychiatrists and therapists were getting wonderful results. There were so many studies in the 60's where LSD based therapy seems to have contributed to long term reform of alcoholics, pedophiles, or other criminal or behavior problem types that it's simply amazing that the drug was made schedule 1 in the USA. A drug with an LD50 over a hundred thousand times its effective dose, with the counter-addictive property that after the first use, that effective does simply rises and rises until the subject literally can't get high on it unless they wait a week or two to use it again, and that was getting glowing praise in some psychiatric circles, and it wasn't restricted or controlled, it was simply totally banned. That's politics indeed.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thomasje ( 709120 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @11:39PM (#28118933)
    I had a similar experience when I was 11 years old. Several acts of vandalism were committed at my school (bike tires punctured) and someone accused me of doing it. (I hadn't.) Pretty soon about half a dozen kids from my class were pointing the finger at me, claiming they'd seen me do it. So, I was found guilty in the court of public opinion, as they say. Luckily our class teacher was a bit more level-headed, realized that there was no evidence and besides, the class ganging up on the scrawny kid that always gets picked on anyway is itself a bit suspicious, but this accusation followed me around for a long time anyway.

    Whether it was just that one particularly scary episode, or my history of being bullied for years (I was small for my age, wore glasses, and was the best of my class at everything except sports -- you do the math), I don't know, but eventually I also ended up lonely and paranoid, always expecting the worst from people, e.g. I send someone and email and don't hear back the same day, and I immediately worry that they're angry at me and giving me the silent treatment. That sort of thing. I have gotten over it to a large extent, partly by indulging my frustration by just spending endless evenings by myself, on my couch, getting drunk, on an almost daily basis, for years. I don't recommend the alcohol part -- while it feels good, it is very bad for your health! Still, I was able to work through a lot of that stuff, and slowly (very slowly) regained my self-respect.

    The trauma will never go away entirely; once you've experienced cold-hearted cruelty, you've experienced something most people never will, and it destroys some or all of your innocent cheerfulness and spontaneity. The paranoid thoughts will come back from time to time. But, it is possible to return to leading a good, happy life; I can honestly say I am a happy person again. It just takes me a bit more courage to do some things than other people, but even that gets easier with time.

    Maybe a shrink would have been able to help me through my bitterness phase more quickly and with less liver damage. I don't trust shrinks, but I could be wrong about that of course; I wouldn't necessarily pooh-pooh the idea of qualifying bitterness as a disorder. Just because it's less bizarre than schizophrenia doesn't mean it isn't potentially serious.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by electrons_are_brave ( 1344423 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @11:49PM (#28118985)
    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSMV) is under review, which is why this has popped up - it's someone lobbying for a disorder to be included. There's criticism, of course. In 1952, it had 66 disorders, by 1994 it had 400, and lordy lordy knows how many this edition will end up with. Which leads to the "we are pathologising everything" debate. I have my own dream. Personally, I research boredom and my chances of getting grant money would be much higher if the chronically & severely bored weren't just outliers from the average (i.e. really bored people), but were, in fact, mentally ill. This would benefit them because (at long last) they would have a real illness which could be treated, recognised legally by insurance companies and get researched. Some neurotransmitters are associated with fatigue, lethergy and boredom, so a drug that blocks, increases or inhibits this would be available tout suit. Of course the truth is that some people get really bored really easily. I suspect this is true of bitterness as well.
  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @11:54PM (#28119011)

    It certainly works for some people--those whose symptoms are actually caused by what the pill treats.

    Depression isn't a disease, it's a symptom. The DSM IV's classification scheme is a joke--it is a list of symptom groupings with names. Depression is caused by a long list of conditions, many of them NOT neurological in origin (for example, hypothyroidism).

    Physicians who toss out anti-depressants at the first sign of depression without any consideration for what the cause of that depression is should lose their licenses.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:54AM (#28119355)

    I beg pardon for my anonymity, not my normal practice.

    I am sympathetic to your challenges.

    Some time ago I worked in a medium sized company. It was during web bubble 1, and we were duly booming along. All good.
    Then we went away for a company outing - some days a plane flight away. There was eating, drinking (a lot of that) and general partying.
    On our return I got accused of sexual harassment (in writing - I think I eventually threw the letter away, it was too weird). As with your experience it was, indeed, Kafkaesque. I tried to find what they though the problem was - and the best explanation I got was I had taken some pictures of workmates sitting around the pool in bikinis ... I checked (I always did take a lot of pictures - and this was before digital cameras), and there were maybe 10% more pictures of females than males. Gosh. Doesn't sound like a terrible sin.
    I couldn't decide what to do - I thought about demanding to face my accuser, etc etc. I eventually wrote a letter of apology (to an unknown person, quite a challenge) and offered to pay a fine to a charity.
    And nothing happened. Nothing. No response, no further letters, no request to pay the fine. Nothing.

    Eventually the company folded and I went on with life, a little sadder, and a little puzzled.

    Still, it could be worse. A good friend of mine was divorced by his wife. Ok, it happens. But she would not tell him why. And he still doesn't know (no, he wasn't cheating and nor was she, friends of hers claim she said she wasn't happy and would not elaborate).
    Wouldn't that tear you apart?

  • by waterbear ( 190559 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:22AM (#28121163)

    Just think of the 'advantages' of having bitterness classified as a mental illness/disorder:

    All those awkward folk who get themselves wronged and deprived of justice -- they can be reclassified as mentally ill, and maybe compulsorily treated with some happy pill, maybe locked up. And finally, they'll come to realize that there is justice after all, and they'll get to love Big Brother .....

    -wb- :(

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @09:14AM (#28122501)

    In this case, I would say that one of the differential diagnostic issues would be significant subjective distress before it would be diagnosed. What this means is that you'd have to be bothered enough by it to go and seek help.

    An example of another diagnosis with that same kind of differential would be sexual dysfunction. Some people can't get it up and they don't care. No diagnosable condition. Some people can't get it up and it upsets them greatly. Voila, diagnosable condition.

    Part of the reason for trying to turn certain things into diagnosable conditions is insurance issues. Insurance refuses to pay for therapy for people who aren't "sick" - even though talking about problems with a professional can help stop problems from becoming severe enough to justify a diagnosis (and cost a LOT more money down the road). People saying it's just about making money are generally not correct - while there are some clinicians who make their living basically having chats with the worried well, most would rather spend their time working with clients who actually can benefit from help. For the most part, the bullshit diagnoses are there to help people who would benefit from preventative treatment, before something becomes severe. We treat people for elevated (but not really high) blood pressure, pre-emptively, why not also help save someone years of misery by helping them develop better coping skills before relatively tame problems they face balloon into huge ones?

    Finally, when talking about this, remember, we're not just talking about people who are kind of cynical and sour - we're talking about people who are finding that they are experiencing substantial distress and impaired functioning in many areas of their lives. If you experienced significant pain in your knees that was preventing you from walking without excruciating pain, which was in turn causing you not to exercise, making you miss days at work (or even losing your job), forcing you to stay at home because getting up to go out hurt too much, would anyone say that you going to see a doctor is unreasonable? Same thing here - it's just that because we cannot see the actual cause of the problem people are much more willing to dismiss it.

  • Re:Makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:07AM (#28123187)
    "Devout believers are safe-guarded in a high degree against the risk of certain neurotic illnesses; their acceptance of the universal neurosis spares them the task of building a personal one." - Sigmund Freud
  • Re:Cynicism (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @11:04AM (#28123897)

    You're experience is pretty much like mine, but in mine, my family were the initial cruel ones. We were a very dysfunctional family and I was the one all the rest would take out their frustrations on. I was bullied unmercifully by my older brother my entire life, and my little brother, 10 years younger than me, tells me I'm not worth knowing, that we can be acquaintances, but never friends.

    I grew up trusting no one, believing no one, and being a target for every manipulator and bully I ran into. What's worse, I was punished any time I defended myself from anyone. It didn't matter what anyone did to me, if I defended myself at all I was whipped. Even when the old man was told by the parents of kids who had observed their kid bullying me that their kid deserved what he'd gotten when I'd hit them my old man would wait till they left and then come after me. When my older brother bullied me my old man would stand and watch laughing his head off until I got mad enough to fight back. Then he'd punish me.

    Justice was a word unknown in the house I had to grow up in.

    Hell, I was even named after someone my parents hated with a passion. My old man hated his step dad because he was an alcoholic and used to come home drunk and beat up his wife back when my old man was a kid, so who was I named after? You guessed it. My old man's step dad. I was named after someone of whom I never heard anyone in my immediate family say a good word.

    I'll say this for grandpa though, he and I became buds. It's just too bad we only saw each other once every few years. He would even stand up for me when he saw me being abused. Unfortunately that would only make things worse for me after he left, but at least he tried. As far as I'm concerned, grandpa was the only human being in my family.

    So, am I bitter? Yeah, you could say that. Do I have trust issues? You better believe it.

    I have an IQ of around 150 and I've never been able to accomplish anything with it because I was taught from day one that I had no rights, that I was stupid, and that everyone else in the world had the right to screw me over. I, amazingly enough, have major issues with authority figures. I just don't trust them and thus will never try to work out any issues with one. I'll just just walk away to get out of the situation, or have a major melt down when/if I get angry enough, because the lessons my entire family beat into my ass for years still stick with me.

  • Re:Cynicism (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:16PM (#28124969)

    Yeah. Both my mother and my alcoholic father were teachers at the school I attended. That was enough to turn public opinion against me.
    Cruelty -- Check.
    Ostracism -- Check
    Loneliness -- Check
    Bitterness -- Check

    Then I had kids of my own, two wonderful well adjusted children with tons of friends. Guess what? It turns out they felt the same way I did as a kid at times, they just don't dwell on it. I did. That is the difference between whatever 'normal' is and what I felt.

    And yes, I went to a psychologist appointed by the school to deal with my 'problems'. He hid a tape recorder in a desk drawer and played it for my father who then went home and yelled at me about how embarrassing it was for him.

    "I'm much better now." -- John Aston

"Ninety percent of baseball is half mental." -- Yogi Berra