chapter  2
28 Pages

The difficulties that staff experience in treating individuals with personality disorder


Personality disordered patients evoke strong negative emotions and attitudes among many health care professionals. Such is their unpopularity that Fallon’s inquiry into Ashworth Hospital (1999) observed that the legal concept of ‘psychopathic disorder’, created to cover patients with personality disorder when they fall within the remit of mental health law, is a term of ‘abuse’. Cavadino emphasised the futility of re-labelling the concept of ‘moral insanity’, arguing that ‘the more modern term is simply a prime example of moralism masquerading as medical science’. He continues,

Perhaps we should strip away the mask completely, and for the term ‘psychopath’ substitute the word ‘bastard’. For ‘predominantly aggressive psychopath’, read ‘stroppy bastard’. For ‘predominately inadequate psychopath’: read ‘useless bastard’. Would much be lost in the descriptive power of the terms? Would not much be gained in the honest expression of the essentially moral judgement and dehumanizing contempt with which we view ‘the psychopath’?