The Spot The Crazy Book

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          It is Friday, the end of spot the crazy week. By the way, when you say the words ‘spot the crazy’, say them like a game show host announcing the start of the show. It’s a lot more fun that way. So, how are you going to spot the crazy if you do not have a playbook?

          Paul says: Psychologists use a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders to diagnose patients. This book has the rules for each mental disorder, saying that a client needs to have 5 out of 7 little crazy behaviors to be categorized as a big kind of crazy.

          So why am I writing about this instead of Lee? Because for her the DSM is a tool of the trade, like a rake to a gardener or a scalpel to a surgeon, but for me it is magical, akin to reading your horoscope or seeing a psychic. I have read both the DSM and the DSM Casebook, the latter of which was a storybook of dysfunctional behaviors and thought patterns and, in my hands, was like reading a fairytale where all of the characters were nutty as squirrel shit. I loved it.

          The natural reaction to reading the DSM is that you look through it and say ‘I do that!’ then you show it to friends and claim that you have this or that disorder. Generally speaking, if you do have something diagnosable, you are not going to recognize it from the book description. That seems to be the first test: can you spot your own crazy? If not, then you have it.

          Let me give you an example. I had a boss who needed to go to therapy. He had to go to therapy because he was ape shit insane. After pushing his therapist for a diagnosis for the better part of an hour, she said that he might be narcissistic, which is one of the personality disorders. Please remember that, although I work the financial side, most of my career is in the social services, which means that I can’t throw a rock without hitting a therapist. Disclaimer: no matter how much you want to, do not hit a therapist with a rock. So my boss stormed into one of the local therapist’s office, pulled down the DSM and proceeded to make a case about how he was not a narcissist. It took him about three hours to tell all of the middle management and higher personnel that his therapist was an intellectual midget compared to him, how he was a better psychologist then her, and that she was just jealous of (and probably infatuated with) him. In case you can’t see this coming, he needed nine behaviors to be classified as narcissistic personality disorder. He demonstrated all nine in the first fifteen minutes of his three-hour tirade, the rest being frosting on the cuckoo cake.

          Now that you have an example, let’s put a couple into context. Monday we wrote about the dramatic crazy. These are the cluster B (dramatic) personality disorders: narcissistic, histrionic, antisocial, and borderline. These are the ones that seemed so fun at the beginning until they cut their hair to look like yours and suggest that your kids call her ‘Mama 2’. On Tuesday, we wrote about kids and, for the most part, learning disabilities, which are in a whole different category. Since children are little sociopaths by their very nature, you can’t diagnose them with personality disorders but you can tell if they can’t make eye contact or if they are writing letters backwards at the age of 12. Yesterday was another category; addiction. Thanks to Celebrity Rehab, we have a pretty good idea of what that looks like. On Wednesday, we looked at Rick Sanchez. Unfortunately, the DSM doesn’t have a category called ‘stupidity disorders’. If it did, you could find him there.

          Lee says: I need to refrain from diagnosing because people may construe that as something more than just making fun of people. However, I can say that Paul is correct about his diagnoses and there is a diagnosis for Rick Sanchez that he may have already mentioned above. Not that I’m saying anything. I think that Rick is a great guy with a heart of gold (and allegedly a cluster B personality disorder).

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