You may remember the article that I wrote last week about Nearly Anxiety. With a book written by Doctor Luana Marquez and Eric Metcalfauthors from the medical department at Harvard University in the United States. I was somewhat worried about the idea of nearly anxiety and the impact it would have upon those who were troubled by that problem. I'm not as yet read the book but I have read sections of it and some reviews and find that perhaps I had a poor impression of it given by that title.
The whole idea of a nearly something does seem to sell down the river those people who suffer from anxiety yet find that the medical diagnosis criteria do not recognise them as having a problem. The concept of Nearly Anxiety is that some people suffer from anxious feelings on a regular basis because of lower intensity or regularity of the experiences they are not diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder; note the word Dis-order, because here is the key. To have a disorder in the system applied by most medical practitioners the client has to conform to a set of criteria set out in the diagnostic and statistical manual, previously called DSM 4 but now that the updated version 5 is available.
This new version has caused a great deal of controversy due to the personnel used in its production and some of the new definitions given in it. However I don't want to get into a discussion of those particular concerns. More important is this whole concept of nearly something.
In order to put this over I need to become personal and talk about myself and things that happened to me in the past. I suffered from a phobia of my own blood, I and my family, did not know that it was a phobia, in fact the whole idea of a phobia was not something that was in common usage at that time. I also suffered from a social anxiety that caused me to blush profusely, in keeping with my, then, sandy hair. During exam times I was struck with sore throats and swollen glands no matter what the exam was. And then were those strange moments in supermarkets where I seemed to shrink and the world around me moved away leaving me all alone very disorientated and frightened in the middle of a space.
Now none of these things were ever overwhelming except in specific situations that were not continuous but they did have quite an effect on my life at times. However at that time I did not know why I felt like that, I did I did not know about anxiety problems or panic attacks and never ever spoke to anybody about things that bothered me. The only one that was apparent to people was the fact that I passed out whenever I cut myself badly.
If I had been judged by any of the definitions of an anxiety disorder at that time I would not have registered on the scale. Even so the discomfort that it caused me at times was high. That is my experience and I will not go into detail here because other people will tell you of their sufferings at a much higher level.
Many of the people who come to me would not register on the scale of criteria set by the creators of DSM for five. Yet people when they call me all explain to me things that are easily recognised as a strong and lasting discomfort caused by heightened and at times continuous and repetitive anxieties. For example the gentleman who came to me who was becoming more and more terrified of driving because he was worried about having to go to the toilet and disgracing himself whilst unable to stop for the toilet.
Just like another young man who came to visit me and suffered panic attacks while sitting at home watching the TV. He eventually confided that as a child he had experienced a ghost in his room at home on several occasions. This fear that he had generated at that time re-occurred as a panic attack while sitting at home. Most people who suffer panic attacks do so in places away from the home and consider the home as a safe place. As you can imagine to suffer panic attacks in the home must be very disconcerting. Again this young man would not have figured at the extreme end of the scale to be considered with a panic attack disorder.
So yes I do agree that there are some people who do not qualify on the scale of criteria in the diagnostic and statistical manual either four or five or earlier ones. But to place these people in a category of nearly seems to be-little them, reducing the severity of the effect of their anxiety concerns in the way in which their lives are affected as my own anxiety discomforts affected mine.
The language we use in the way in which we talk about other people is crucial to the impact we have upon them. Calling these books Nearly Anxiety and Nearly Depression starts off for me on the wrong foot. Whilst I do understand that the authors are exploring these phenomena in an empathetic way the title is on the cover of their books and may well discourage people from wanting to buy them or read them.
Perhaps we could have a competition to choose new titles of these books. What do you think?
6. 11. 2013