Bicoastal Disorder (DSM-V Definition)

And now, for a brief comedic interlude. I’ve been sitting on this DSM-V-parody definition of bicoastal disorder for a while. My own definition arose from a couple of quick moves and trips between New York and San Francisco. However, it appears the idea’s been around the Internet for years; see this reference to a Wired writer using the phrase in 2000. To the best of my knowledge nobody’s tried to formalize this into a DSM disorder before. Recommendations of additional criteria welcome; actual inclusion of this definition into the DSM NOT recommended.

Diagnostic definition for Bicoastal Disorder:

A. In most weeks during the past year, four (or more) of the following symptoms were present during the first week after moving, begin to remit within a few days after the onset of travel, and were absent in the weeks before displacement:

(1) Disorientation; impaired ability to identify compass directions from where one stands; impaired ability to negotiate city streets despite intact motor function

Google Maps: walking directions from New York City to San Francisco.

Google Maps: walking directions from New York City to San Francisco.

(2) Failure to properly identify one’s current geographic location (example: “But here in New York, we — dammit, I’m in San Francisco…”)

(3) Repetitive, seemingly driven, and apparently purposeless motor behavior upon exiting a transit system (grabbing for transit card when not needed to exit; bumping into turnstile after failing to swipe card)

(4) Maladaptive use or disuse of automobiles as a means of getting from point A to point B (i.e. trying to drive in Manhattan; insisting on walking to a destination in Los Angeles; driving to get to a location one block away)

(5) Failure to use developmentally expected speech sounds that are appropriate for dialect (e.g. “skim milk” instead of “non-fat milk”; “freeway” instead of “parkway”; dropped terminal Rs; “like”)

(6) Disruptive communication with family members by phone at inappropriate times

(7) Persistent and recurrent maladaptive compulsion to disrupt work schedule to watch sports games; disruption of sleep schedule to finish watching sports games

(8) Hypersomnia or insomnia induced by time zone

(9) Non-subjective feeling of distance from loved ones which interferes with daily activities

B.   The disturbance markedly interferes with work or school or with usual social activities and relationships with others (e.g., failure to manage one’s social calendar due to forgetting who lives nearby; ).

C.   The disturbance is not merely an exacerbation of the symptoms of another disorder, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, Social Media Autism Spectrum-related conditions, Bridge-And-Tunnel Disorder, Angeleno Driving-Defiant Disorder, Unreasonable-National-Border-Enforcement-Impacted Personality Disorder, “jet lag,” or Technology-Inflected Privilege (although it may be superimposed on any of these disorders).

D.   Criteria A, B, and C must be confirmed by prospective daily ratings during at least two consecutive symptomatic cycles. (The diagnosis may be made by a therapeutic professional, a self-styled life coach on LinkedIn, or a sympathetic hackerspace manager with concerns for the mental health of technology workers.)

Gillian “Gus” Andrews is a technology researcher who also makes The Media Show. She won a heroic adolescent battle with Angeleno Driving-Defiant Disorder by moving to New York City.

Comments 1

  1. marni wrote:

    I started telling people I suffer “Bi-Coastal Personality Disorder” in 1995, when I moved home to Halifax NS (on the east coast of Canada) after living in Vancouver BC (on the west coast) for five years.

    I have been afflicted with an acute longing for the west coast of Canada ever since.

    Interesting that this seems to be an east to west phenomenon ….

    Posted 17 Mar 2015 at 6:23 am

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