The word “unhappy” has been virtually abolished from the English language. For every person who says “I’m unhappy” there must now be a thousand who say “I’m depressed.” The change in semantics is important: the person who says he is unhappy knows that there is something wrong with his life that he should try to alter if he can; whereas the person who says “I’m depressed” is ill, and it is therefore the responsibility of someone else — the doctor — to make him better.
An editorial in the May 17 New England Journal of Medicine by a psychiatrist at Cornell points out that the new Diagnostic and Statistician Manual of the American Psychiatric Association proposes that people who are grieving after the death of a loved one should quickly be diagnosed as suffering from depression.….Has no one in the APA read Hamlet? Can no one there recall his first soliloquy?… and yet with a month –Let me not think on’t — Frailty, thy name is woman! –A little month; or ere those shoes were coldWith which she followed my poor father’s bodyLike Niobe, all tears; why she, even she –O God! A beast that wants discourse of reasonWould have mourned longer …Frailty, thy name is doctor!….Psychiatrists, after all, spend their lives observing people: it obviously takes years of study, training, thought, discussion, reading, and reflection to know so little about them.