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Thu Nov 7, 2013, 09:57 AM

Bad behavior isn't an illness

When the 1980 edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (commonly known as the DSM-3) was being prepared, psychiatrist Allen Frances lobbied for the inclusion of a new diagnosis: masochistic personality disorder. His push failed, and by the time the fourth edition came out in 1994 (edited by Frances), he was glad it had. He no longer believed such a condition existed.

Masochistic personality disorder, as Frances had conceived it, "diagnosed" those whose typical behavior brought them unhappiness by "self-sacrifice in the service of maintaining relationships or self-esteem." The diagnosis might help explain women who put up with violently abusive lovers or husbands or repeatedly choose such men as sexual partners. Feminists attacked the proposed diagnosis, arguing that it blamed women for their own abuse. And it was on those grounds, not scientific ones, that the DSM-3 excluded the diagnosis.

In fact, the pattern of behavior that Frances' disorder sought to categorize is common; I encountered it often in my clinical practice. "His eyes suddenly go funny," a patient would say of a violent boyfriend, "like he's having a fit. He stares, he doesn't blink, and then he starts to strangle me. I don't think he knows what he's doing."

"Would he do it in front of me, then?" I would ask, and the scales would fall, at least temporarily, from her eyes. But the willingness to excuse abusive behavior was often astonishing. I recall one patient with an arm and a jaw broken by a man just out of prison after a long sentence for killing another woman. She rejected our warning that she was in imminent danger and walked out of the hospital arm in arm with her abuser.


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Reply Bad behavior isn't an illness (Original post)
bemildred Nov 2013 OP
Warpy Nov 2013 #1

Response to bemildred (Original post)

Thu Nov 7, 2013, 04:16 PM

1. Those assholes never have one of those "fits" in front of a cop.

They also exclude their buddies, their fathers and their bosses.

Some studies have been done that suggest that they get very calm while they're battering an intimate partner into a pulp.

About all we can do is help friends stuck with them to get out and to show up with a cop and a moving van the day they say they're ready.

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