12 February 2010

Defining mental illness

Working definitions of mental illness have just been updated. There's been a lot of talk and pre-emptive criticism of the new psychiatric "bible" and I was curious what the changes would be. Mind Hacks has come up trumps, again, with a readable summation and links. Creation of the psychosis risk syndrome is a tough call. At what point are we mad if a fair proportion of the population routinely lives with hallucinations and disorganised thoughts? Disorganised thoughts--are they defining writers?

It's not really funny, nor is the new paraphilic coercive disorder. I'd say getting your kicks out of rape is a moral failing, not a mental one.


  1. The purpose of "Paraphilic Coercive Disorder" has to do with "Sexually Violent Predator" laws that a number of 20 states in the US have. These laws permit the "civil committment" of sex offenders AFTER completing their sentences (and are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE.) Because the ability of the state to lock people up has enormous potential for abuse, there are numerous constitutional protections on how this can be done. The "civil committment" process has been hijacked to deal with essentially criminal issues, while getting around these safeguards. The courts have said that people can only be civilly committed if they have a "mental disorder." So this pretend mental disorder is being invented (it is already used) to legitimate this process. The other big problem with these civil committment laws is that they try to reduce sexual violence based on the idea that it is mostly caused by scary people hiding in bushes, motivated by being horney. There may be some such people, but a very small portion of sexual violence is committed by them.

  2. Thanks, Ach, for providing context. Much appreciated. And you write a great blog.


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