The very second I have reached the absolute, definite, positive, no-doubt-about-it diagnosis of my best friend as having borderline personality disorder, some rag like The New York Times informs me there's something called sensory processing disorder, and I'm forced to conclude I've got to cut her some slack. She probably has that instead.
Then, having harangued, threatened, browbeaten, cajoled and attempted to blackmail my teenage son into cleaning his room--which smells like a gorilla's armpit on a hot summer day--I read about something called oppositional defiant disorder. It's not simply that he's being an obstreperous dork. It's that he's hardwired to constantly challenge authority.
But it gets worse. The following is a list of little known but devastating mental conditions and disorders that positively cripple afflicted individuals. However, fear not: What's great about humanitarian organizations like Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Wyeth, God bless 'em, is that as mental illness increases, they continue their unending crusade to soothe our pain.
1. Big Mac Aversion Disorder. First identified in the early '90s, this disorder is easily recognized and describes individuals who don't like fast food. Sufferers spend virtually all their time with noses pressed against the windows of fast-food restaurants, but lack the ability to actually enter the establishments. Their suffering intensifies, often leading to substance abuse and hives, as they watch the sleek, attractive, happy individuals within enjoying their meals. This syndrome's earmarks are intense loneliness, a sort of "separated from the herd" mentality which ultimately leaves its victims feeling alienated and bereft. In severe cases, carrot sticks and unmasticated dried fruit can be seen dangling from their choppers. BMAD can be treated, but only with years of expensive talk therapy, a wheelbarrow full of Prozac and frequent electroshock therapy.
2. HDTV Apathy Disorder. These people don't see the point of spending a dime on high-definition television, since there's never anything good on anyway. They wonder constantly whether there's actually any point at all in seeing Paris Hilton's ass, or some crooning fop on American Idol, with any more clarity that what's currently available on regular TV. A subtle but nonetheless devastating variant of HAD is TAD, or TiVo Apathy Disorder. TAD sufferers, despite the strenuous efforts of advertisers and manufacturers everywhere, don't see the point of recording the crap to watch later, since it was never any good in the first place. The only approved treatment for both HAD and TAD are massive doses of anti-anxiety medication (historically known as "tranquilizers"), or in worst-case scenarios, full frontal lobotomies. This procedure, previously deemed outmoded and extreme, has started to regain popularity within the mental-health community as the only approved treatment for this, as well as a multitude of similar conditions. In fact, thanks to the efforts of advertising lobbies everywhere, drive-through lobotomy clinics are springing up nationwide. Lobotomy is an expensive procedure; however, discount coupons can be obtained through any Best Buy or Circuit City outlet.
3. Popular Music Tantrum Disorder, or PMTD, not to be confused with PMTD (Post Menopausal Tirade Disorder--someone's trying to come up with other letters for this one, but the hot flashes have rendered them too distracted).
PMTD is characterized by seizures, rants, nausea, vomiting, a loss of vehicular control and the jamming of sharpened pencils into ear canals whenever a Modest Mouse song comes on the radio. Postmortem neurological studies with rats have found that if forced to listen to a whole CD of this aural effluvia, serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels drop so dramatically that they'd rather be dead anyway.
4. Illusion of Free Will Syndrome. Sufferers walk around imagining their fates are connected to the actual choices they make, and are not simply a synthesis of whatever mix of chemicals they happen to be running through their synapses. Of all the aforementioned syndromes, this is the most dangerous and the least amenable to treatment. Individuals suffering from IFWS are a continuing hazard to our way of life, and according to a recent report commissioned by Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, et al, sufferers should be quarantined from the general population, or failing that, medicated up the yatch. It probably won't do any good, but profits from sales will fund future studies.