Nearly 1 million of Jamaica‘s people may have a personality disorder ! At least this is according to the Mental Alert article blared across the headlines in the last edition of the Jamaica Sunday Gleaner.Which one? Well we don’t know just yet, as the article did not specify any of the 10 distinct Personality Disorders categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR) under the following clusters:
- Cluster A: Odd or eccentric behavior
- Cluster B: Dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior
- Cluster C: Anxious fearful behavior
Ostensibly, the jolting results in the article shone a bright light on the integral role of Clinical Psychologists in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of mental illnesses in Jamaica. It’s so true and this need applies to all mental disorders. It also urged the forensic and social communities to make critical liaisons with mental health clinicians when designing new crime stopping programs. Good plug for us I tell you and its about time.
Then I thought some more on it. Although, I meet many persons with differing personalities and personality disorders on and off the couch, I must say that any number near 1 million is quite startling. I mean that would be 1/3 of our population. I am not alone in the shock! The article comments made on the Gleaner website shows the small amount of panic that may be spreading across the nation. It seems as if we are currently struggling to find an explanation for our staggeringly high crime rate and if the blame can be placed on one thing, a high rate of personality disorders, then so be it.
However, before we go off calling down all kinds of healing streams and spiritual salvation, we need to look at the data more closely. Scientifically speaking, it is important to know the validity, reliability and sensitivity of Prof. Hickling and Ms. Paisley’s instrument used to measure this epidemic. What this means is, does it measure what its supposed to measure? does it abide by DSM-IV-TR guidelines for Personality disorder diagnoses? is it consistently measuring the same things its supposed to measure? is the cut off for diagnosis set too high or too low? would a strip searched and irate higgler at any airport in the U.S.A. score right off this personality disorder scale? We also need to question the standardization of this measure. All this will certify the facts and weed out the drama.
Additionally, Hickling’s mention of the words “Power management struggles” and “Dependency issues” as diagnostic red flags are not included in the DSM-IV-TR and as such need fleshing out by his team and application to standard diagnostic codes. This is necessary for a universal understanding ( or over-standing, what ever floats your boat) of what these results mean.
So let me be Obama clear: Personality Disorders are rife throughout Jamaican society, and we do need to include it in the planning of a successful crime and mental health plan. However, the reasons why our society behaves the way it does, are very complex. Lets appreciate this fact by taking all possibilities into account when understanding criminal activity.
In my opinion, I think the number of Jamaicans with a diagnosable Personality Disorder is lower than this estimate. Secondly, we must ask ourselves, if mostly everybody is crazy, is it still a mental illness or a national mentality?