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Does mental disorder involve loss of personal autonomy? 

Does mental disorder involve loss of personal autonomy?
Does mental disorder involve loss of personal autonomy?

Derek Bolton

and Natalie Banner

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date: 03 July 2022

The problem of defining mental disorder has long vexed philosophers and psychiatrists keen to distinguish conditions warranting healthcare from those variations and eccentricities of human experience that, whilst negative, are considered normal and not illness. Two broad approaches are identifiable in the contemporary literature: naturalism, and characterizing in terms of distress and disability. Considering the naturalist approach, the highly successful disease paradigm in 19th-century biomedicine expressed non-self-consciously the idea that illness is a disruption of a natural bodily function: the disease was observable as lesion or cellular pathology. This paradigm and its implicit naturalist view of illness transferred into the new psychiatry and its notion of mental illness, which, in the 1960s, was attacked ferociously by the social science constructionist/deconstructionist critiques of psychiatry (...

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