The power of words: the evaluative character of psychiatry
In psychiatry, one of the main concerns is to recognize when something, be it an emotional state, a behaviour or a personality trait, is to be placed inside the boundaries of ‘normality’, or when it has to be considered a pathological trait, that needs to be cured. Being a medical discipline, psychiatry has one aspiration: to achieve an objective and impersonal view of abnormal behaviour.
Yet, what does it mean, for a discipline that has to deal with human fragility and suffering, to be ‘objective’? Is mental disorder something we can detect in a impartial, neutral way? This paper aims to stress the relevance, for defining and classifying mental disorders, of both a mentalist vocabulary (Banner 2013, Broome, Bortolotti 2009) and the reference to cultural, social, moral and evaluative rules (Olbert, Gala 2015). My claim is that, when it comes to psychiatry, it is very hard to divide the objective and the evaluative component.
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