Saturday, April 4, 2015

Personality Disorders and the Social Model of Disability

Personality disorders are conditions in which a person's personality is drastically different from social norms. Often, these conditions are said to be inflexible and maladaptive. People with these conditions are said to be unable to adapt their personality, which makes the case that the conditions are diabilities. And, they are said to blame the challenges they create on others and society.

Wait a minute.

Personality is drastically different from social norms?
And they also blame the challenges they create on society?

Something doesn't add up.

Those contradictory statements said about personality disorders is an example of one of the problems with the medical model of disability: biased and inaccurate views of disabilities.

Personality disorders are highly stigmatized. Personality disordered people are often seen as abusers, when having a personality disorder does not make you necessarily abusive (even in antisocial individuals; many of them don't hurt others because they realize it will hurt them in the long run). Also, their problems are seen as all their fault when they did not choose to have a personality that is at odds with society, and even though one essential characteristic of personality disorders is that they significantly deviate from social norms. What is worse is that they are said to not realize that how their personality is is a problem, which is really a matter of opinion. They, like other people, have the right to hold a different opinion.

One way to resolve the stigma is to think of personality disorders using the social model of disability. Because the model says that disability is an interaction between an individual and society, personality disordered individuals would not be seen as entirely at fault; the reason they have so much difficulty is that the individual's personality and society clash, and if society were to accommodate personality disordered individuals, their difficulties would lessen.

Also, I would like to ask readers something. What do you think would be a more neurodiversity-friendly term for personality disorders? Please post your ideas in the comments.

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