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Understanding Eating DisordersConceptual and Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa$
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Simona Giordano

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269747

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199269742.001.0001

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Is Pathological Behaviour Caused by Mental Illness ?

Is Pathological Behaviour Caused by Mental Illness ?

Chapter:
(p.58) 3 Is Pathological Behaviour Caused by Mental Illness ?
Source:
Understanding Eating Disorders
Author(s):

Simona Giordano (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199269742.003.0004

This chapter considers a widespread argument that behaviour classified as psychopathological is caused by the mental illness. It is common to believe, for example, that patients hear voices because they suffer from paranoid schizophrenia; or that they lose interest in life because they suffer from depression; or that they binge and fast because they suffer from bulimia and so on. It seems to follow that the autonomy of the person with a mental illness is diminished, and therefore paternalism towards mentally ill people can be justified precisely on the grounds that they have a mental illness. This chapter argues that a mental illness does not cause the experiences and behaviours that are regarded as pathological. It shows that it is fallacious to contend that abnormal experiences and behaviours are the result of an underlying mental illness. This has important ethical implications — paternalism cannot be claimed as ethical because the person has a mental illness.

Keywords:   pathological behaviour, mental illness, descriptions, tautologies

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