Moral aspects of psychiatric diagnosis: The cluster B personality disorders

Neuroethics 3 (2):173-184 (2010)
Abstract
Medical professionals, including mental health professionals, largely agree that moral judgment should be kept out of clinical settings. The rationale is simple: moral judgment has the capacity to impair clinical judgment in ways that could harm the patient. However, when the patient is suffering from a "Cluster B" personality disorder, keeping moral judgment out of the clinic might appear impossible, not only in practice but also in theory. For the diagnostic criteria associated with these particular disorders (Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic) are expressed in overtly moral language. I consider three proposals for dealing with this problem. The first is to eliminate the Cluster B disorders from the DSM on the grounds that they are moral, rather than mental, disorders. The second is to replace the morally laden language of the diagnostic criteria with morally neutral language. The third is to disambiguate the notion of moral judgment so as to respect the distinction between having morally disvalued traits and having moral responsibility for those traits. Sensitivity to this distinction enables the clinician, at least in theory, to employ morally laden diagnostic criteria without adopting the sort of morally judgmental (and potentially harmful) attitude that results from the tacit presumption of moral responsibility. I argue against the first two proposals and in favor of the third. In doing so, I appeal to Grice's distinction between conventional and conversational implicature. I close with a few brief remarks on the irony of retaining overtly moral language in an ostensibly medical manual for the diagnosis of mental disorders.
Keywords Moral language  Moral judgment  Moral responsibility  Psychiatric diagnosis  Personality disorders
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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: 9,357
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    View all 7 references

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2010-05-07

    Total downloads

    33 ( #44,403 of 1,088,681 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,601 of 1,088,681 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


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