The Times reports today that ‘millions of people risk being labelled as mentally ill under new classifications which have prompted calls for a boycott by psychologists (The Times, March 20 2013). The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is due out in May and it is reported that dozens of new conditions have been created. Thus there is a Generalised Anxiety Disorder which includes everyday worries, a Minor Neurocognitive Disorder for forgetfulness in old age and Behavioural Addictions which, the report says, turn much of what people enjoy doing into a disorder.

Professor Peter Kinderman who is the head of the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool said that his favourite is the Female Orgasmic Disorder which is the temerity to complain about your husband’s ability to perform in bed.

The Times goes on to say that a group of psychologists will launch a campaign today to boycott the new manual.

In Page v Smith [1996] AC 155 the House of Lords made it clear that one of the control mechanisms in claims for damages for what used to be called ‘nervous shock’ was that they were only recoverable for a recognisable psychiatric illness. This control mechanism assumed that there was some agreement among psychiatrists as to what ‘recognisable psychiatric illnesses’ were. That consensus seems to be coming undone.

It will be interesting to see whether some of the more controversial conditions and disorders will be pruned from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual following a consultation period and prior to publication.