A new term was coined recently for the profession that is unsurpassed in neologisms. Psychology, with its clinicians and psychotherapists, now has a disorder that they themselves must watch out for in each other. Syndromophilia is the abnormal condition in psychologists of having a strong tendency to classify human behaviors as symptoms of mental diseases; combined with an affinity for diagnosing these new disorders, and authoring and providing treatment for them.
It is sometimes referred to in laymen’s terms as “manufacturing victims,” and may have first been used by psychologist Carol Tavris in her forward to Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology. Tavris was in a courtroom where expert testimony was being given by a pediatric psychologist supporting a defendant who had been diagnosed with Munchausen by proxy; a disorder where a parent supposedly manufactures an illness for a child and perpetuates it by abusing the child to simulate its symptoms. The new neologism is introduced in Tavris’ assessment of the testimony she heard:
No one disputes that some mothers have induced physical symptoms in their children and subjected them to repeated hospitalizations; some cases have been captured on video cameras. There is a term for this cruel behavior; we call it child abuse. When the child dies at the hands of an abusive parent, we have a term for that, too; we call it murder. But many clinicians suffer from syndromophilia. They have never met a behavior they can’t label as a mental disorder. One case is an oddity, two is a coincidence, and three is an epidemic.
Once a syndrome is labeled, it spawns experts who are ready and willing to identify it, treat it, and train others to be ever alert for signs of it. No new disorder is “rare” to these experts; it is “mistaken” for something else or “underdiagnosed.” (forward; emphasis added)
Indeed, widespread outbreaks of syndromophilia would help to explain the plethora of disorders, and their treatments, being discovered by psychologists who are also professing Christians. They can now treat sufferers of “Faith That Hurts,”1 “Spiritual Abuse,”2 and “Toxic Faith.”3 A person can even be treated after becoming “Addicted to Love,”4 because in pseudo-Christian psychology, just as in the pseudoscience of clinical psychology, all that ails you is a momentary lapse in neologism.
1. Stephen Arterburn, Faith That Hurts, Faith That Heals: Understanding the Fine Line between Healthy Faith and Spiritual Abuse, 1993.
3. Stephen Arterburn, Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing Over Painful Spiritual Abuse, 2001.
4. Stephen Arterburn, Addicted to Love, 1991.
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