The only labels Emotional Fitness Training (EFT)wants applied to children and adults are Kind or  Cruel.

about the DSM

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual is the American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s  dictionary of mental health diagnosis; I call their labels the  “Need Shrinking Label.”  How I try to keep the various  mental health labels in perspective   A label is just a label.

Aspergers  is a good example of why some totally disparage the DSM. Emotional Fitness Training (EFT)  does not.  EFT views the DSM as a tool, useful sometimes, not the right tool at other times.

Aspergers is poorly understood even by the experts.  However, it has entered the popular psycho-babble.  It describes someone who seems to be marching not just to a different drummer, but an entirely different orchestra. A good reminder that all Need Shrinking  mental health labels are just that – labels.

Once upon a time run away slaves were labeled as suffering from Drapeomania.  Might have made sense to a slave owner  who believed he was kind and caring, but certainly not to a slave seeking freedom.  Meanwhile back to current Need Shrinking Labels.

In case you didn’t know it, the shrinks are warring.  Their bible is being revised and while not as earth-shaking as a re-write of either the Old aka Torah or the New Testament, it does stir up a lot of dust.

A number of Need Shrinking Labels have been added and a few removed. Aspergers is one of the ones some are trying to remove.  First, included in the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 1994 edition of their DSM. The diagnosis is being dropped from the newest DSM edition – due out in 2013.

Why is one embraced by so many being dropped?  The research seems to show there is no difference between what is called high functioning  autism and Aspergers.  The APA works hard to make the DSM science and takes research seriously.  I applaud them for that, but also know it is Psychiatry is youthful science and not always as reliable as one would want.

Many of my friends are Aspies (what many with the Asperger’s label call themselves).  Will they disappear with if  their label becomes passe?   No. That should help keep  rants about labels in focus.  My friends will not be changed.

Moreover, some don’t care, but some are distressed about those seeking to oust Asperger’s as a different diagnosis.    For more details about those that are distressed go to this article in the Daily Beast.


Tip one: A DSM label is just a label and like those on a file folder can be an accurate or poor description of what the label is attempting to describe.

The right label increases the possibility of the easing the challenge; the wrong label may or may not make things worse.

Tip two:    The labels are not the problem, stigma is the problem.  

Tip three:  Don’t worry, act. Because of the stigma attached to some labels,  coupled with the human desire to hope for the best, too many of us worry. We humans are particularly interested in knowing if we are normal or not.  We might want to step out to the sound of a different drummer, but not too different. A DSM label can make one feel quite a bit different, but it also can provide a sense of “That’s me” which some find comforting.  Hopefully, it leads to proper treatment.

As parents, if a child seems too out of step,  we worry more.   Most of the worrying is wasted, but at the same time, parents are the first to notice when something is not quite what it should be and if you are very worried, it is time to do something.

Effective worrying is a matter of using the worry to think and then to act or not to act.  So if you find yourself more than a little worried, do something.  Seek advice from experts and that does not mean just your mother, best friend, or mother-in-law.  The younger your child, the easier to get a professional evaluation.  Why? Because the mental health professionals know, the earlier a Need Shrinking Label gets applied, the more likely the person needing professional help will prosper and live a good life.

Tip four:  As much as the mental health professionals want early evaluations, the less trained experts and that includes many teachers, family doctors, and even pediatricians first offer reassurance.  So when you first start asking for a mental health evaluation be persistent.

Tip five: If it turns out your child does meet the criteria for a label, learn all you can about what the label describes, and why the shrinks think it applies to your child.

Tip six:    However, the problem or difficulty gets finally named, if it involves a DSM label, help your child learn its name and how to use that name effectively.  My better functioning Aspie friends are comfortable in their skin.  That is your goal.

Tip seven:  If a child gets a label get yourself support, more support, and more support.  Solid support can be found on line.  Look for parent run groups, but beware of extreme positions.  What do I mean: “Autism is caused by vaccination  or “The right diet cures hyper-activity.”  Such passionately held beliefs might hold a bit of truth, but an open mind leads down better paths.

Also be wary of those who act like experts and disparage other experts.  Having two or three children makes you an expert on those two or three children, not on other people’s children.  As most who have struggled with major difficulties say, “Take what is useful” and  forget the rest.

Eighth tip:  Take care of you.  Eat well, move your body, get plenty of sleep, take me-time and mate-time and family laugh and play time.  Practice kindness and generosity  so your child will learn the same.  In living the good life that is what matters most.


Parenting is difficult and often a struggle as you must know by now.  You should also know this: you are almost certainly a good enough parent. As noted above, if you’re having a hard time, my advice is not to ignore that, get professional help.

As always, thank you for your support, it means a great deal to me.


DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. I have dysgraphia which means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are. Thanks for your understanding and reading my work.


All my books are available on Amazon, and readable on any tablet, laptop, Mac, PC, e-reader or Kindle device.

When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers
Parents Are People Too. An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents
Tame the Test Anxiety Monster

Watch for my about to be released How to Hold a Successful Family Meeting.  This is a Tool Kit with templates and posters as well as an E-book.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.