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  1. #1

    Default Personality Disorders and Personal Responsibility

    As the diagnostic evidence for personality disorders expand does the grounds for believing in personal responsibility shrink?

    Can there be penalties or legal sanctions for behaviour which individuals, or more likely their advocates, can plead diminished responsibility?

    As distinct from legal penalties and sanctions there are always going to be natural and logical consequences of actions which cause suffering to their author and also others, which of these forms of suffering do you consider to carry the most moral weight?

    When a society experiences the consequences of the choices and behaviour of an individual with a personality disorder, is society itself experiencing consequences of its social structure, expectations or attention or neglect of its members?

    That is to say, because I know some posters will get derailed into discussing society as a social construct, it causes real suffering to individuals other than the individual with the personality disorder such as trauma, bereavement, material loss or insecurity, injury or death.

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    Member midnightstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    As the diagnostic evidence for personality disorders expand does the grounds for believing in personal responsibility shrink? .
    I believe it does, sadly. It seems like most of the time when people claim diminished responsibility they're doing it just to get a lighter punishment for what they did. They're not taking responsibility for their own actions.
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    good question, lets narrow it down with some kind of example. can you be more specific? maybe give a scenario in which we can apply your question?
    "I'm not in this world to live up to your expectations and you're not in this world to live up to mine. "
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    You could plead diminished responsibility if the person could be treated with therapy, like give them a chance to go through therapy - that be their "punishment" - on a first offense.

    But if they refused to cooperate or could not be rehabilitated, I don't know. I don't think the U.S. prison system is a help to ANYONE, but rather a cruel and counter-productive hindrance in some cases, however I do think that psychopaths who cannot be rehabilitated should be ...put to sleep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    As the diagnostic evidence for personality disorders expand does the grounds for believing in personal responsibility shrink?

    Can there be penalties or legal sanctions for behaviour which individuals, or more likely their advocates, can plead diminished responsibility?

    As distinct from legal penalties and sanctions there are always going to be natural and logical consequences of actions which cause suffering to their author and also others, which of these forms of suffering do you consider to carry the most moral weight?

    When a society experiences the consequences of the choices and behaviour of an individual with a personality disorder, is society itself experiencing consequences of its social structure, expectations or attention or neglect of its members?

    That is to say, because I know some posters will get derailed into discussing society as a social construct, it causes real suffering to individuals other than the individual with the personality disorder such as trauma, bereavement, material loss or insecurity, injury or death.
    Interesting how the responsibility of an individual is frequently viewed as though it was dependent on the whole. Sometimes we crack under the pressures of everyday life after an unresolved neurosis forces us to crumble into a nervous breakdown or even psychosis. In these cases, I would say that the individual is no longer responsible for being who they once were: a functioning member of society who values their individual role. I'm aware of a Union general in my family tree who, sometime after the Civil War, walked in front of the White House and gunned down a district attorney who was discovered to have had an affair with the general's wife. During his subsequent trial, general Daniel Sickles pled insanity, which was the first use of a "temporary insanity" defense in the United States; it granted him release. Later, Sickles forgave his wife, which was an act even more controversial than pleading temporary insanity. "Insanity" in this case was more of a legal term than a diagnostic term.

    We are still held entirely responsible regardless of the circumstances, which means that a judge and jury are still entirely responsible for determining legal consequences.

    I don't think there is necessarily a degradation of morality, since I believe most people have an innate sense of morality. The "degradation" of morality is an illusion created by the expansion of our standards for forgiveness. Forgiveness itself is part of valid ethical questions to be raised. Everyone, at one point or another, has to ask, "What consequences are ethical, given the ethical violation of another?". We are never the final judge to determine the consequences in the life of another. However, forgiving doesn't necessarily mean that we let go of our duty to be fair, and fairness is difficult to maintain when our standards shift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    You could plead diminished responsibility if the person could be treated with therapy, like give them a chance to go through therapy - that be their "punishment" - on a first offense.

    But if they refused to cooperate or could not be rehabilitated, I don't know. I don't think the U.S. prison system is a help to ANYONE, but rather a cruel and counter-productive hindrance in some cases, however I do think that psychopaths who cannot be rehabilitated should be ...put to sleep.
    Psychopaths are very much a problem, yet most of them are too survivalist to get in trouble with the law. Dexter is an exaggerated example.

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    I R Schizotypal lololol

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    It makes no sense to hold someone responsible for something over which they had no control, a situation they were powerless to change, although I grant that the law often does exactly that. If an infirmity, whether mental or physical, constrains someone's actions or renders them unable to prevent unintentionally harming others, they do not have moral responsibility. A good example is a driver who suffers a sudden heart attack, loses control of the car and causes an accident. This actually happened to the wife of one of my colleagues recently, but the only resulting harm was her own death.

    A significant exception to this is when the individual understands they have a problem that might result in unintentional harm to others, and does not address it. We might include someone with mental illness who does not take his meds, or an alcoholic who does not get treatment. Do we include the heart patient who does not take his meds, or refuses bypass surgery? How about the elderly person who won't admit her reflexes are too poor to continue to drive? (My colleague's wife was barely 60 and in apparent good health, so total surprise there.) What about people who participate in dangerous sports and recreational activities, resulting in frequent injuries that deplete the insurance pool for everyone?

    Now, we must factor in the reality that many people who want to treat their issues cannot afford to do so. Insurance companies and HMOs have been especially stingy with paying for mental health services. To the extent that this exacerbates the problem, society shares in the responsibility for the inadvertent harm done by such people.
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    Yes and no.

    As society has begun to not only accept but actively search for lesser psychological disorders in children (ADD, schizotypical disorder, hypersensitivity, etc.), it has given a lot of young people permission to be different. In some cases, this is useful, because it allows people to focus on their actual problems, rather than trying for years to fight a personality which is natural to them. It also allows us to give medical attention to people who have debilitating mental disorders. However, illnesses like ADD and ADHD are so frequently misdiagnosed now, that we start to diagnose it in children who are simply high energy, creative or easily distracted. The message has become, "You are sick, therefore you can't function in society" rather than "You have a problem, and you need to fix it." Neither one is entirely helpful to those people who are simply unusual, but don't actually need chemicals to help them function in society.

    However, if we look into the past, responsibility shirking has always been the privilege of the "average" person. If you are considered normal and functional in society, then it's not your fault that some ADD kid wasn't listening to your lecture and failed the class, or that a person with an anxiety disorder freaked out when you made a joke at their expense. You can always blame things on the autistic people who can't conjure up an argument on their behalf, and you certainly don't have to hire people with learning disorders who will require extra training.

    Ideally every person would work to improve themselves as individuals, but we all know that humans are generally lazy, selfish and driven by personal gain. The difference is that now, we as a society are attempting to give a voice and a name to those people who were previously only known as retards or outcasts. Will they take advantage of this gesture of understanding? Of course they will. But it doesn't mean we should continue locking people in closets or labeling them as delinquents because their brain simply functions a little differently.

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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cartesian Theater View Post
    Ideally every person would work to improve themselves as individuals, but we all know that humans are generally lazy, selfish and driven by personal gain. The difference is that now, we as a society are attempting to give a voice and a name to those people who were previously only known as retards or outcasts. Will they take advantage of this gesture of understanding? Of course they will. But it doesn't mean we should continue locking people in closets or labeling them as delinquents because their brain simply functions a little differently.
    If (presumably "normal") humans really are driven mostly by personal gain, all the more reason to help people with problems fix them, whether psychological or otherwise. The more independent and productive they can be, the less we have to give them a free ride. If a label doesn't lead to help, then it does become just an excuse. Unfortunately, without that label, many people end up going without that help.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

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