Psychiatry and abnormal behaviours

Psychiatry is the study of mental disorders. In this chapter we consider how and up to what point personality disorders should be considered as psychiatric disorders.

Descriptions of individuals with behavioural characteristics of a negative moral or social value exist in every culture. At times, most societies have stablished institutions in which all types of marginalized people have been confined, as recorded by Foucault in his Histoire de la Folie à l'Âge ClassiqueA1

In 1575, the first description of individual character from a clinical perspective was contributed by the physician Juan Huarte de San Juan in his Examination of Wits.(2)

A distinction between immoral behaviour and mental illness was established in France at the end of the eighteenth century, coinciding with the birth of modern psychiatry,. For this reason the Marquis de Sade was expelled from the Chârenton Hospital even though he had been admitted by an order ( lêttre de cachet) from King Louis XVI because, in words of the director, 'he is not ill, his only madness is vice'. (1) The same reasoning was applied in the case of a man who, in an attack of rage, threw a woman into a well; Pinel(3) considered that he was not mentally ill since his ability to judge was clear and intact and he presented no delusional ideas, although his behaviour was characteristic of a mental patient. Consequently, this murderer was diagnosed as manie sans délire and his madness was classified as reasoning madness (folie raisonnante). This same idea was expressed 150 years latter by Cleckley(4) who proposed that the social maladaptation of psychopaths is of such high degree that they should considered as psychotic—personality disorder is a mask of sanity.

Prichard, in his Treatise on Insanity and Other Disorders Affecting the Mind,(5) defined the concept of moral insanity from which, together with the moral degeneration described by Morel,(6) the modern concepts of psychopathy and personality disorders are derived.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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