The apparent epidemic of autism is in fact the latest instance of the fads that litter the history of psychiatry.The TV show Touch seems to have the popular perception of autism. The 11-year-old autistic boy has never spoken, except to narrate the show about the nature of the universe. He scribbles numbers all day which turn out to be puzzles for his dad to find coincidences that connect and transform scattered strangers. And a CPS agent keeps trying to take the boy away and institutionalize him.
We have a strong urge to find labels for disturbing behaviors; naming things gives us an (often false) feeling that we control them. So, time and again, an obscure diagnosis suddenly comes out of nowhere to achieve great popularity. It seems temporarily to explain a lot of previously confusing behavior — but then suddenly and mysteriously returns to obscurity.
Not so long ago, autism was the rarest of diagnoses, occurring in fewer than one in 2,000 people. Now the rate has skyrocketed to 1 in 88 in America (and to a remarkable 1 in 38 in Korea). And there is no end in sight.
Increasingly panicked, parents have become understandably vulnerable to quackery and conspiracy theories.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
America’s false autism epidemic
A NY Post op-ed by "Dr. Allen Frances, now a professor emeritus at Duke University’s department of psychology, chaired the DSM IV task force", says: