Social Theory & Health

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 388–406 | Cite as

Incorrigible conduct and incorrigible diagnoses: the case of personality disorder

Original Article


A critical realist analysis is offered of a particular unresolved contention in modern psychiatric knowledge about the diagnosis of personality disorder (PD). With the publication of the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual from the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, this diagnosis stood out as a point of reticence in a document, noted by its critics, for its diagnostic expansionism. Resources from critical realism are used to examine the weakness of the diagnosis and the real enough conduct that the medical codification subsumes. It is concluded that the psychiatric jurisdiction over those with a PD diagnosis now lacks credibility. However, the socio-ethical challenges that lay beneath the diagnosis and beyond its associated medical jurisdiction are not only real but are thrown into sharp relief by the critique offered, raising socio-ethical questions for all citizens.


personality disorder critical realism 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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