The problem of misdiagnosing and/or mistreatment is common to all the branches of medicine, but it is especially painful in psychiatry, where the same legal intricacies can develop to the scale of social oppression. The roots of the problem reside in the very humiliating attitude to the patient that is very common in medical practice and research. Basically, the dominant approach could be formulated as follows: something goes wrong and must be cured. In other words, one assumes the existence of some universal "norm", with any deviations treated as malady; hence the efforts to "restore" the patient's health by all means, and the admission of social restrictions in the while.
However, different social groups have their own notions of the norm, and these notions may largely vary. It can be difficult to decide about the "normality" of a specific case. The decision is bound to bear a mark of arbitrariness, significantly depending on the experience of the specialist and the social trends.
This "medical" paradigm can be encountered in many activities far from medicine. For instance, it lies in the basis of political reformism. In the juridical practice, "crime" and "criminals" are defined in the same relative way. Quite often, this paradigm shows up in education. The standards of style adopted by many reputable journals could be considered as yet another manifestation of the same.
Of course, the world is not yet perfect, with all its deficiencies and disasters. The medical paradigm is to work along with the other attitudes to improve life and relieve suffering. Used with caution, it can be a regular way of solving the everyday problems. However, it must always be counterweighed by the variety of alternative ideas of "norm" and "deviation". The existence of such an "opposition" would in no way diminish the importance of medical treatment, up to the most drastic solutions "forced" on the patient. But the methods of treatment are to gradually become less traumatic, and this is the complement of the medical paradigm, its inverse side. This progress, however, can only be achieved in practical experience, and the patients of today could be said to pay with their pain for the ease of the future generations.