Saturday, May 28, 2011

Superhero Syndrome

Earlier this month, American Psychiatric Association (APA) released the organizational framework proposed for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to be published in 2013. APA is restructuring the DSM’s chapters and categories of disorders to signal the latest scientific thinking about how various conditions relate to each other and may influence care.

APA is again inviting comment from the general public, mental health providers, and other healthcare professionals who use the manual for both diagnostic and research purposes. As part of the development process, the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are now available for public review.

This Job Is Killing Me
And since APA is inviting comment, I thought that I'd suggest inclusion of a new syndrome that I've noticed occurring more frequently with some of my retail colleagues over the past few years.

- Superhero Syndrome.

While this syndrome can occur in any overly-busy pharmacy environment, it most often seems to strike pharmacists working in retail pharmacy. Why is that?

Because as employers have been increasing demands for production, reducing support staff, adding additional patient care responsibilities, all while also requiring dispensing speed and accuracy, many pharmacists who are able to survive in such an environment for an extended period of time have come to consider themselves Superheroes.

And rightly so. Just like all doctors consider themselves superheroes, pharmacists should consider themselves superheroes too. But even superheroes have their breaking point.

Now add to all of those responsibilities, the additional responsibilities and the liabilities of having to police the narcotic and pseudoephedrine abusers while constantly worrying about being shot by the criminals, being prosecuted by law enforcement, or being hung out to dry by their employers, it's no wonder that many retail pharmacists are now experiencing something called - Superhero Syndrome.

The stress of Superhero Syndrome seems to be taking such a toll on pharmacists that even scotch doesn't faze it. As the image above shows, not even Prozac is an effective treatment for it. I think it's become a seriously unhealthy mental disorder, and something needs to be done to address it.

Unfortunately, many superhero pharmacists refuse to use their own powers to help themselves. They continue to let the Jokers and the Two-Faces beat them down. They haven't yet realized that the evil forces in the insurance industry and corporate world view them, not as superheroes or powerful allies, but as expensive and expendable liabilities.

So, I'm asking APA to step in and consider adding this often misdiagnosed syndrome to the DSM-5. The superhero pharmacists need you. If the psychiatric profession can convince these pharmacists to let go of their fears and use their collective individual powers to fight back, then there's a slight chance to eradicate Superhero Syndrome before it takes its toll on the entire profession.

Image Source: Comics Alliance


  1. The Bluehaired PharmacistMay 30, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    You forgot to mention that if we can get Superhero Syndrome added to the DSM-5, that we can claim disability status, and they can never get rid of us.

  2. Frenetic PharmacistMay 30, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    Can't we all just get along? This stuff depresses me.

  3. Mumbai PharmacistMay 30, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I think that I've found a good way to lend credibility to our profession and gain allies.

    I'll go a hunger strike and not eat anything longer than humanly possible. That way everyone will know that pharmacists aren't crazy, and the psychiatric profession won't have to get involved.

  4. I've been monkeying around about this issue for years, but as this video of me discussing it at a retail pharmacists convention shows, no one takes me seriously.

  5. The Bluehaired PharmacistJune 2, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    I remember when iwantedtobeapharmcist and I think the best way we can lift our profession is if we use the smoke-and-mirrors of the internet to "demand" respect by using digital professionalism to anonymously blog our concerns to the decision-makers.

    Because they'll know we are pharmacists, and not some dumbass technicians or recruiters, they'll just have to address us with the respect we deserve.

  6. The Pharmacy ChicaJune 3, 2011 at 3:12 AM

    You can ask for all of the help you think we need. But, the way I see it, we are never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.

  7. Ivory Towers EnemyJune 13, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    The pharmacy schools work for the corporations.

    Why would there be any interest in finding a cure for this iatrogenic syndrome when it's easier for the corporations to replace you with a younger, overly-indebted, and more malleable pharmacist?

  8. I got this message from another superhero just the other day. It seems as though things are just getting worse.

  9. I found an unusual coincidence with the latest Batman movie coming out this week. “The Dark Knight Rises” features one of Batman's most despicable villains - Bane.

    In comic book history, Bane has always been a thorn in Batman's side. He's the one villain who's caused him the most pain, even breaking his spine during one fight.

    But, the interesting part to me about "The Dark Night Rises" is that Bane is a drug addict. He's hooked on the drug, venom, which gives him his superpowers, but only if he continuously feeds his addiction.

    And who's the "Bane" of many superhero retail pharmacists? Drug abusers, criminals looking to continuously feed their addictions, and using their powers for evil purposes.

    Has Hollywood been reading my blog?

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