Therapists Want End to Britney Diagnoses

Identifying mental illness through media inaccurate, dangerous
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2008 8:20 PM CST
Dr. Phil McGraw arrives at the Museum of Television and Radio's annual gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this Oct. 30, 2006, file photo. McGraw has pulled the plug on plans for a one-hour show that was...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The media loves to publish experts' diagnoses of Britney Spears, but assessing a patient's mental condition from gossip columns is irresponsible—and it's giving therapists a bad rep, concluded some professionals at an American Psychoanalytic Association summit. "Brains don't have a checkbox," one analyst told the AP, but some media outlets say such opinions are essential to coverage.

She's been called bipolar since her recent antics began, but the diagnostic frenzy really took off after TV's "Dr. Phil" McGraw declared her in need of psychological treatment. Yet it takes intensive, one-on-one sessions to diagnose a mental disorder correctly—particularly when substance abuse is involved. Still, one editor says labels take the heat off Brit by explaining her "nutty behavior."