Free will and mental disorder: Exploring the relationship

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (6):429-443 (2010)
A link between mental disorder and freedom is clearly present in the introduction of the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). It mentions “an important loss of freedom” as one of the possible defining features of mental disorder. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how “an important loss of freedom” should be understood. In order to get a clearer view on the relationship between mental disorder and (a loss of) freedom, in this article, I will explore the link between mental disorder and free will. I examine two domains in which a connection between mental disorder and free will is present: the philosophy of free will and forensic psychiatry. As it turns out, philosophers of free will frequently refer to mental disorders as conditions that compromise free will and reduce moral responsibility. In addition, in forensic psychiatry, the rationale for the assessment of criminal responsibility is often explained by referring to the fact that mental disorders can compromise free will. Yet, in both domains, it remains unclear in what way free will is compromised by mental disorders. Based on the philosophical debate, I discuss three senses of free will and explore their relevance to mental disorders. I conclude that in order to further clarify the relationship between free will and mental disorder, the accounts of people who have actually experienced the impact of a mental disorder should be included in future research
Keywords Free will  Responsibility  Mental disorder  Psychiatry  Philosophy  Forensic psychiatry
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11017-010-9158-5
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,914
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Walter Glannon (2013). Obsessions, Compulsions, and Free Will. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 19 (4):333-337.
Alfredo Gaete (2009). The Concept of Mental Disorder: A Proposal. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 15 (4):327-339.
Bengt Brülde (2007). Mental Disorder and Values. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2):pp. 93-102.
Alfredo Gaete (2009). Mental Disorders as Lacks of Mental Capacities. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 15 (4):345-347.
Dusan Kecmanovic (2011). Why the Mental Disorder Concept Matters. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 4 (1):1-9.
Rachel Cooper (2004). What is Wrong with the DSM? History of Psychiatry 15 (1):5-25.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

60 ( #55,305 of 1,725,565 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #110,437 of 1,725,565 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.