The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly know as the DSM-V, categorizes about 157 different mental disorder. The roughly 1,000 page book lists all the criteria associated with these disorders, making it an encyclopedia of the unwell. Disorder, when defined in medical terms, means “to disrupt the healthy or normal functioning of,” with synonyms: dysfunctional, disturbed, unsettled, unbalanced, unstable, unsound and diseased.
The DSM has certainly evolved over the years, and it’s important to note that there are certainly persons that fit the true criteria, especially in regards to the more severe mental disorders, and so it’s surely important to understand these disorders in order for medical professionals to know how to help people to the best of their abilities.
On the other hand, where is the book describing the criteria for being a fully-functioning, well-balanced human, not afflicted by any dysfunction? As we know, this would not be a book, nor a pamphlet – it would fit on a single-page flyer. No human to ever live could author such a book. If it did exist, this one-page flyer would surely be placed in the fiction section rather than the self-help section, because it’s clearly fantastically unrealistic in nature. Therefore, it would appear that disorder is the norm, which makes disorder the true order of things. No life goes untouched by illness, struggle, conflict or pain. We know this! To seek to understand our pain for the sake of learning how to live with it and manage it is one thing – to use criteria of illness as an excuse as to why we can’t manage is missing the point entirely.