NCBI ROFL: A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.

By ncbi rofl | November 22, 2010 7:00 pm

pig“It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains–that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant.”


Photo: flickr/TheGiantVermin

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: NCBI ROFL, rated G, ridiculous titles
  • Charles Schmidt

    So does that mean that being unhappy is normal and good? This idea no doubt is from someone that is unhappy and feels that everyone should be as unhappy as they are, that is sick.

    • Dr. Octagonapus

      You are assuming that “normal” and “good” are the same thing.
      You are also assuming that because someone is pointing out a problem with something, they SURELY must support the opposite of that thing. (Joe made a criticism of the USA? Joe loves terrorism!) (Happiness is not statistically “normal”? He must hate happiness!)

      Also this article is a satire. Notice how it’s just an abstract and not actually an article?

  • drjohn

    Does the stupidity ever end?

  • ChH

    If serious, it is stupid. But I suspect it is instead a brilliant satirization of how psychiatrists classify “abnormal” conditions.

  • Rabidmob

    @ #1: Interesting question, I would think that it could be said that being unhappy is normal, though I doubt much of a case for it being good could be made.

  • ChrisMoser

    Happiness in inappropriate situations, or due to cognitive distortions can certainly be considered a problem, or at least an indicator of serious pathology.

  • jsa

    As I recall, the argument was really about the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia(s) in DSM-III, suggesting that if the same approach was adopted to the description of happiness (as an anomalous and unrealistic or delusional state of mind in a miserable world), it too would qualify as a mental disorder.

  • Ed Yong

    British people have the best mental health around! Hooray!

  • Vaughan

    The paper was satire although was making a serious point about diagnosis. Some context here.

  • David

    This is a satirical counter-factual.
    Tthe trouble with intellectual work: you can’t turn it into a tweet-able sound byte. That’s how we all started talking about “death panels” in poor Zeke Emmanuel’s work (the man is firmly OPPOSED to euthanasia, but was describing counterfactuals).

  • Itchy Bites

    >>British people have the best mental health around! Hooray!
    I’d say they are not the most unhappy ones. What about Zimbabwe? By the way, I just found out that there is such a thing as Gross Domestic Happiness measurement, derived from GDP to measure life quality. OMG, it’s getting serious.

  • DJ BUsby

    Described as a disorder, I don’t think this will gel with the public in any way. Described as a pathology perhaps it makes sense. So far as the public goes, it’s simply a categorization of a person’s location on the Gaussian curve.
    I linked to this article of yours today in my post. I hope it drives traffic your way.
    my post today if you’re interested:
    Much Respect!
    -DJ Busby

  • Gabz

    I think disorders are a disorder.

  • bobo the hobo

    “rofl”? uh huh.

  • Linz

    I wish it was real. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Why should happiness be normal, simply because it feels nicer than other emotions? It is still classifiable in this way. Love this. It shows how, conversely, we should not judge those who suffer from sadness as people who are abnormal. It highlights how important it is to recognise that a range of emotions are all normal. Love it! I’m happy! *gets carried away by men in white coats*

  • carolyn van der linde

    This is absolutely valid as a part of a scientific construct.  If a thing is abnormal then it is in fact a disorder.  Happiness is arguably abnormal in today’s society.  If you don’t believe me go talk to human beings face to face with eye contact.  Then report back.  Certainly some people will display symptoms of happiness, but most will not.  If it were normal to be happy then everyone wouldn’t be on drugs.  

  • Felipe

     Tristeza não tem fim… felicidade sim…


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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