Synthese 196 (6):2217-2241 (2019)

Ginger A. Hoffman
Saint Joseph's University of Pennsylvania
In the 2000s, several psychiatrists cited the lack of relational disorders in the DSM-IV as one of the two most glaring gaps in psychiatric nosology, and campaigned for their inclusion in the DSM-5. This campaign failed, however, presumably in part due to serious “ontological concerns” haunting such disorders. Here, I offer a path to quell such ontological concerns, adding to previous conceptual work by Jerome Wakefield and Christian Perring. Specifically, I adduce reasons to think that collective disorders are compatible with key metaphysical commitments of contemporary scientific psychiatry, and argue that if one accepts the existence of mental disorders in individuals as medical, then one has good reasons to accept the existence of collective disorders as medical. First, I outline how collective disorders are reconcilable with both the harmful dysfunction model of disorder and a denial of mind-body dualism. I then identify some potential weaknesses in the main pre-existing example of a collective disorder, offering my own examples as supplements. These examples’ medical plausibility is bolstered by: work in philosophy of biology on the generalized selected effects theory of function, and work in analytic philosophy of mind on collective mentality. Finally, after offering preliminary responses to the objection that the recognition of collective disorders may lead to an overpathologization of everyday life, I spell out ways in which this recognition may have empowering effects for some would-be patients; for example, by providing substance to the notion of a “sane response to an insane world.”
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-017-1379-y
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,132
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

The Extended Mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Troubles with Functionalism.Ned Block - 1978 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9:261-325.
Neuroethics: Challenges for the 21st Century.Neil Levy - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mental Disorders Are Not a Homogeneous Construct.Polimeni Joseph - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):419.
Obsessions, Compulsions, and Free Will.Walter Glannon - 2012 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 19 (4):333-337.
Personality Disorders: Moral or Medical Kinds—Or Both?Peter Zachar & Nancy Nyquist Potter - 2010 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 17 (2):101-117.
Mental Disorders Are Not Brain Disorders.Natalie F. Banner - 2013 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 19 (3):509-513.


Added to PP index

Total views
26 ( #423,217 of 2,454,708 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,768 of 2,454,708 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes