What are the diagnosis controversial?

The classification is not accepted by some specialists

Some psychiatrists believe that the standard categories are unhelpful, because:

  • There is no scientific evidence for them
  • Most people who are diagnosed with a personality disorder do not fit any one category
  • The categories are based on how people behave when they are in the hospital, not in the community – where most people live
  • They do not help in deciding what treatment is most appropriate for someone
  • The focus should be on what each individual needs in order to deal with their problems and live in society more successfully, not what category they are in

You can feel labelled and insulted

“Diagnoses of mental health problems feel personal in a way that physical health problems don’t. And no diagnosis feels more personal than that of a personality disorder.” – Clare Allan, The Guardian

The term ‘personality disorder’ can sound very judgemental. Your personality is the core of yourself, and to be told it is ‘disordered’ can be very upsetting and undermining. Many of the diagnostic labels used (e.g. ‘dependent’ and ‘inadequate’), can stigmatise, insult and hurt people.

“I hate the term ‘personality disorder’. It assumes that the very core of who you is disordered because it doesn’t fit into what someone else has decided is the norm… Almost anyone can fit the criteria for each personality disorder, but that doesn’t mean they are ill.”

It can be mistakenly diagnosed

Survivors of domestic violence or child abuse have sometimes been mistakenly diagnosed with a personality disorder. This is because they have developed persistent and wide-ranging post-traumatic symptoms, which have been misread as part of their basic personality.

If you feel that your diagnosis is incorrect, you can ask to be referred for a second opinion.

It is sometimes associated with crime

At least half of criminals have a diagnosis of personality disorder, with a high proportion of those having antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). This is explained by the fact that criminal behaviour is one of the criteria for the diagnosis of ASPD.

People who have a diagnosis of a personality disorder and are also considered to pose a serious risk of harm to others, or have committed a violent crime, may be described as having ‘dangerous and severe personality disorder’.

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