In a bitter skirmish over the definition of depression, a new report contends that a proposed change to the diagnosis would characterize grieving as a disorder and greatly increase the number of people treated for it.
That made me think: what other normal shit is now, like, fuckin’ crazy, bro!? So I came up with a list of other revised definitions for common disorders. The results: Eh.
First problem: that Times quote is long, yet it’s still not thorough enough to set up my game. The right quote should also say that this proposed change would appear in the new (fifth) edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book-to-beat in professional psychiatric diagnosis. Rather than try to squeeze in that long-ass title, I’d rather just toss “the D.S.M.” in brackets somewhere and assume that you—a savvy reader of broad interests now doing post-doctoral work at one of Switzerland’s finer particle accelerators—are familiar with the acronym.
Could I also squeeze in this quote from the article, by one Dr. Allen Frances, the guy who (I needn’t tell you) oversaw revisions to the last DSM? “What I worry about most is that the revisions will medicalize normality and that millions of people will get psychiatric labels unnecessarily.” I’d sure like to, but boy oh boy would that be a mouthful.
The working title I gave it was: “I’m OK, You're Just as Crazy.” This is based on the famous self-help book, “I’m OK, You’re OK,” which no one has read in 30 years. What followed the Times quote was my list of “Other Disorders with Expanded Definitions.” So I really had two titles. Yikes.
So, here is the list I came up with. It's all right. I guess. My scathing personal commentary appears in red.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Symptoms now include dotting I’s and crossing T’s. [Decent joke. Not trying to blow anybody's doors off yet.]
Premenstrual Dysphoric Syndrome
Are you a woman? Then please call a doctor immediately. [Good, but I’d like a slightly harder punchline here to get past light-hearted set-up bits and to undermine any rule-of-threes expectations by dropping a true zinger into slot two. I mean: “bitches-be-crazy,” right? Just kidding around, though: a moment of levity in the eternal battle of the sexes. A chance, perhaps, to laugh—but not too hard. I do not want to alienate any female readers and I definitely don’t want to piss off the dames at Jezebel.com.]
Symptoms include introversion, fear of public speaking, and reluctance to engage in mixed martial arts cage fighting.
If you have ever used sex as an excuse to make a baby, please contact your physician. [I apologize for calling the women at Jezebel.com “dames.”]
Symptoms include Lent. [Do people know what Lent is anymore?]
If you are not the guy in the movie “Man on Wire,” you have it. [Yawn.]
Restless Leg Syndrome
Symptoms now include running, riding a bike, soccer, and making snow angels. [Too easy.]
Do you sleep eight hours each night? Seriously? Every night!?! [We’re getting there. See, this is not really a definition but a panicked interrogation implying that you are crazy. I’m undermining the form, son.]
Symptoms include exercise, hygiene, laundry, and mirror ownership. [BOOM. Take that D.S.M. V and your specious medicalizing of normality!]
Dual Hand Syndrome
Sufferers have two hands, one at the end of each arm. [The best bit in the list. The rest is downhill.]
Symptoms include actually being chased by dogs, really getting threatened by hoodlums, and definitely being followed by black helicopters owned by the Trilateral Commission. [Way too wordy and obvious.]
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
If you skipped down the list to this one, go to an emergency room immediately.
Symptoms include smoking, using a gas stove, and Def Leppard’s third album. [YES.]
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Symptoms include asking your friends when the bill comes at a restaurant, “Is it cool if I only throw in eight bucks? I barely had any of the appetizers.” [I aim this at specific friends/loved ones and genuinely hope that it’s in the new D.S.M.]
If you ever get “all turned-around” in a rural farm maze, you are a danger to yourself and others. [Is it sexist to assume that all Jezebel.com writers are women? Maybe some of them are dudes.]
Passive Aggressive Disorder
Oh, I’m sure you don’t have this one. Just go to the doctor anyway, will you? UGH!
Symptoms include tucking a sweater into a pair of jeans. [Here I wanted an example of a very lame male fashion faux pas that might offend a gay guy. However, aren’t I using a stereotype of gay men as fashionistas and thus, ironically, acting homophobic myself? Well, no. Comedy writers are the trapeze artists of social mores. You, reader, should not take the risks that I take. I can be as racist and homophobic as I want and yet still be considered a good guy. You can’t. It’s not fair, I know, but that’s life.]
Have you memorized this list without really trying? Well, then I hate to break it to you… [A somewhat decent final definition, but more somewhat than decent. One of my problems with list-comedy is the second-to-last bit is always better than the finale because of the implied promise of a killer out. Think of every Letterman Top Ten List you have ever seen. List comedy makes it very, very hard to throw down the mike and walk away arms-wide, glaring at the audience Chris Rock-style with a “Yeah, I said it!” scowl. No one reading this list would say, “Oh no he didn’t!” They’d probably think, “Oh sure he did. Many of us could have.”]
End of list.
Such is the cross that I had to bear as a comedy writer. [Note to secular humanists: that is a Jesus reference. He had to carry the cross that he was eventually nailed to after being condemned to death by a Roman official named Pontius Pilate. Lent is the period that commemorates this sacrifice that he made for all of humanity. Including you.] Now, I’m not saying I can’t play the list game. Oh, I can. Without a doubt. For whatever reason I just couldn’t get my curveball to drop here. So in closing, I just want to say that I think it’s total bullshit that I can’t call the female writers at Jezebel.com “dames,” but it's perfectly fine if I call their male writers “dudes.”