The American Psychiatric Association is considering labeling bitterness as a mental illness:
Having floated “Apathy Disorder” as a trial balloon, to see if it might garner enough support for inclusion in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the world’s diagnostic bible of mental illnesses, the organization has generated untold amounts of publicity and incredulity this week by debating at its convention whether bitterness should become a bona fide mental disorder.
Bitterness is “so common and so deeply destructive,” writes Shari Roan at the Los Angeles Times, “that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.” “The disorder is modeled after post-traumatic stress disorder,” she continues, “because it too is a response to a trauma that endures. People with PTSD are left fearful and anxious. Embittered people are left seething for revenge.”
This particular post on the Psychology Today website rejects the idea, saying that bitterness is justified (wait for it) by the Bush administration. But depression is also justified sometimes. What the APA wants to do, apparently, is medicalize moral and spiritual struggles. I’m curious what the treatment for post-traumatic embitterment disorder would be. How will psychiatrists get bitter people to forgive those who trespassed against them? Medication?