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?