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53 MIN READ TIME

The SkepDoc

BY HARRIET HALL, M.D.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CRAZY? WE use the word loosely. In casual conversation we might say “He’s crazy” or “That’s insane!” but that doesn’t mean we really think the person is certifiable. Sometimes all it means is “He doesn’t agree with me.” What does it take to be formally diagnosed with a mental illness?

Medical diagnoses like broken bones and diabetes are pretty straightforward. They depend on objective findings from diagnostic tests, but diagnosis of mental disorders is mostly subjective. There’s no blood test for schizophrenia. Psychiatry is arguably the least evidence-based of all the medical specialties.

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