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Is Aromanticism alone labeled as a mental disorder anywhere?


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I wanted to ask in case someone told me that its a mental disorder (that’s the right term right?). I remember hearing that California labeled aromanticism as a mental disorder from a very reliable source. (Some random aro tik tok video comp I saw on youtube.) :p

Anyway does anyone know if being aro was ever labeled as a disorder, because being gay was so I wouldn’t be surprised if aro was as well.  
 

I am asking about being aro alone, not other factors that people could use to say, “your only aro because your also x or y neuro-divergent, and all aros are neuro divergent”. Thats a separate discussion for another post.

Its hard to find anything on the topic after a few searches. Would love to know so I can educate others if this question ever comes up.
 

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I'd be interested to see their sources, because as far as I'm aware, I've never heard of this before, and this is very much My Jam. Actually, when it comes to romance, the only real psychological term I can think of is erotomania, which has nothing to do with aromanticism.

If I can divulge into some gay history here, our concept of being gay was initially established by sexologists and clinical psychologists. Prior to the 1800s, nobody in European society was categorized based on who they were attracted to, but rather by what kind of sex they were having. For instance, anti-homosexuality laws didn't exist, but anti-sodomy laws did, and even then, sodomy was a vague enough term that it basically referred to anything that wasn't reproductive sex. So although sodomy laws have since become basically associated with punishing gay men for having sex, sodomy laws technically applied to anyone who was having sex in anyway that wasn't vaginal sex, and prostitutes were frequently targets of sodomy laws.

Around halfway through the 19th century, a bunch of European guys were like, what if we approached sexuality in a "scientific" way instead of a religious/moral one? and then basically used "science" to justify existing social norms. Specifically, they looked at forms of sex that weren't reproductive in nature and began inventing terms to describe them and explain the motivations behind them. For instance, "heterosexual" was actually initially used to describe bisexual people, and then evolved to mean "person who experiences opposite-sex attraction in some way but wants to have sex in a way that won't result in babies and that's pathologically bad" before turning into what it means now. "Homosexual," then, was a diagnosis that was officially codified in 1952 when the first publication of the DSM listed it as "sociopathic personality disturbance."

This is all to say that there was no pathologizing romance at this point in time, largely because romance was not really a concept. From my understanding, romance initially referred to the genre of stories about knights, and then, by the early 20th century, came to refer to what we view it as now. While people certainly acted in ways we would consider romantic nowadays and felt what we might call romantic attraction, the idea that romance could exist as its own thing was not a concept people had in their minds. Marriage, prior to the 19th century, was either just a business transaction or just a way to have sex without the Church coming down hard on you (such as with the sodomy laws). It took until the Enlightenment Era for people to start considering that maybe life could be more than just like, feudal Europe, and then marriage evolved with the establishment of capitalism and the development of the Industrial Revolution. The tl;dr for this is that, with the invention of capitalism, production moved away from families of peasants who farmed and into mechanized factories, which meant that the need for stringent family structures that had a lot of kids to perform a lot of labor waned considerably. The economic structure of society was shifting which meant people now had access to being individuals in place of being stuck in these family structures.

Which is then all to say that it took this creation of individualism to promote the idea of romance. If I am now free to live live without the pressure to get married as soon as possible in order to create as many kids as soon as possible so we can all wither away on my landlord's farm for the entirety of our lives, then maybe I can marry for other reasons. Maybe I can marry someone because I feel strongly about them rather than having my marriage planned from birth.

So, with that in mind, it becomes literally impossible for romantic attraction to be pathologized before the 1920s at the very earliest, since it, as a concept, just did not exist. Relatedly, the DSM wasn't published until 1952, which only gives us a total of 70 years for such a concept to be officially pathologized, anyway. Since then, I can't think of any mental disorder that specifically lists lack of romantic attraction as its root problem. You could argue that things like depressive disorders and schizoid personality disorder might stigmatize a lack of romantic interest in people as something wrong with a person, but I've looked at all five DSMs (I own the latest one because I'm a social work student) and I've never seen anything that explicitly discusses romance from my memory.

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On 6/25/2022 at 2:44 AM, Ikarus said:

I remember hearing that California labeled aromanticism as a mental disorder from a very reliable source.

do you have any more detail.

Off the top of my head this seems very dubious in that individual states labelling mental disorders doesn't seem to fit with how I understand the US. As I understand it mental health disorders in the US are labelled by the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,  which is written by the American Psychiatric Association and in principle guides mental health professionals across the country. They write the guidebook and I don't really understand what 'california' labelling something a mental disorder would even mean.
 

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On 6/25/2022 at 3:44 AM, Ikarus said:

Its hard to find anything on the topic after a few searches. Would love to know so I can educate others if this question ever comes up.

There is no text from 1990 and certainly not 1890 which uses the word "aromantic" (if you still see that word, it's a typo). But of course "aromanticism" can be described in other ways.

We all know those lists of "strange laws" (though many are hoaxes or misunderstandings). So there is some small probability that in a random country at one time they put something vaguely like "aromanticism is a mental illness" in an official document.

I wouldn't bother. Speculation is useless without a source.

It could be 100% made up. Or perhaps in some Californian institutions they used a point scoring test for psychiatric diagnoses and there's one point of 50 that's about not having romantic relationships. Some overenthusiastic aro stumbles upon this and hypes it up to "Californa labeled aromanticism a mental illness" clickbait.

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Posted (edited)

@roboticanaryUnfortunately I cannot find that video clip. That tik tok clip has an image of some study or something. I wish I could remember more details. What I do know is the image had to be about aro labeled as a mental disorder in CA. 
 

Knowing what I now know thanks to all your replies I can safely say that video is probably factually inaccurate.

Edited by Ikarus
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i’d assume it’s mostly overdiagnosis/unnecessary diagnosis of other disorders in aros. i’ve seen people’s first response to “i don’t want romance” be an armchair diagnosis of intimacy anxiety disorder or aspd, and knowing the mental health system and my own experience, i would not be shocked if some professionals impulsively do the same.

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23 hours ago, tyledgarlic said:

i’d assume it’s mostly overdiagnosis/unnecessary diagnosis of other disorders in aros. i’ve seen people’s first response to “i don’t want romance” be an armchair diagnosis of intimacy anxiety disorder or aspd, and knowing the mental health system and my own experience, i would not be shocked if some professionals impulsively do the same.

YES, and it's not even about armchair diagnosis. Quite a few users here mentioned mental health professionals who pathologized their aromanticism.

But still... strictly speaking your answer is off-topic. This is quite different from a major national or sub-national organization of psychology / psychiatry to declare aromanticism a mental disorder.

Most likely this TikToker pushed a hoax. But behind every good hoax, there's a kernel of truth. Certainly true here!

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No, aromanticism alone is not diagnosed as a mental disorder, or I don't know where.

Which is true though is that some peoplz will see aromanticism as a sign of othzr pathologies, usually some kind of intimacy disorder, or depression.

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