The fundamental assumption of the mental health system is that people with significant emotional distress, people who need help, suffer from some underlying disorder that causes their stress. They “have something.” Diagnosis is about finding out “what you have.”
For most people though distress is not about what they “have”, It is about “what has happened.” It is not about disorder. It is about injury.
Disorder fails as explanation because it removes a person’s distress from the context of his life. It medicalizes suffering and makes it something wrong with you rather than the result of what happened to you. For many people it is a message that is an act of violence towards their soul. It tells them they are deficient and broken. And it tells them that is the way it will always be.
It defines the “disorder” as being what is really real and your distress as a symptom of what is wrong with you… And everyone caught in a situation which is too often not helpful either to those helping or those being helped.