Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Starbuck Stops Here

[Posted by ClinkShrink]

The DSM criteria for caffeine intoxication includes restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia or cardiac arrhythmia, periods of inexhaustibility and psychomotor agitation. Regardless, the web site for one of the best coffee shops in Charm City has registered over 2.8 million hits in the past two years---that's nearly 4,000 web visitors every day. Why such a demand for such a noxious substance?

Well, duh. There is little question remaining about the addictive nature of caffeine. What remains to be addressed are the implications of caffeine addiction, or caffeinism, on legal or social policy if there is general acceptance that caffeine addiction or dependence is a mental disorder. The DSM is careful to couch it's diagnostic criteria in the following disclaimer:
The clinical and scientific considerations involved in categorization of these conditions as mental disorders may not be wholly relevant to legal judgments, for example, that take into account such issues as individual responsibility, disability determination, and competency.
Another way of putting this would be: 'just because a diagnosis is in this book doesn't mean you can use it in your lawsuit.' This disclaimer doesn't prevent people from trying, however. Remember the Twinkie Defense? I foresee caffeine withdrawal used someday as a mitigating circumstance for a criminal offense, or perhaps as the basis for an ADA 'reasonable accomodation' claim. Hmm...perhaps my office should always be within walking distance of Starbucks. That's reasonable, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, I feel compelled to record the happenings of last night somewhere on the internet and a caffeine post seems the best place to do it. I drank a large coffee two hours before going to bed (I don't usually drink much coffee). One hour later I wake up with a pounding heart and racing thoughts. I'm trying to go back to sleep but I can't stop thinking about all these strange somatic complaints("my eyes feel funny...my legs do too...if I don't concentrate on breathing I'll forget to do it...dinner's digestion seems to have gone terribly wrong"). I'm a 3rd year med-student and am going to go into psychiatry, and I knew at the time that my intense worry that "i'm digesting the components of my dinner in the wrong order" was totally illogical (and quite insane), but I could not stop thinking it. Every few minutes I would feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin and I would have to get up and walk around the house. At one point I dosed off and my fiance woke me up to inform me that I was yelling "wake me up!" in my sleep. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and the experience was totally nuts (I should phase out the phrase "totally nuts" by the time psych residency starts!). I'm blown away by how incredibly strange the brain can be. I'll think I'll avoid coffee before bed tonight. No need to respond to this I just felt like sharing it.