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"Personality Disorder" Position Statement

I stand in fierce opposition to the entire concept of “personality disorder” and do not believe anyone can legitimately be “diagnosed” as having a disordered personality. While I oppose the validity of the construct, I am in no way stating that people with a diagnosis of personality disorder do not have real and valid experiences. I merely disagree with how those experiences have been diagnostically categorised and located as being a fault with our personalities.

Personality disorder labels (particularly BPD/EUPD) are unscientific, moralistic, pejorative value judgements which serve to silence, stigmatise, dismiss, and degrade women; LGBT+ people; gender non-conforming people; victims of sexual abuse, violence, and other forms of trauma; neurodivergent people; and people mental health services perceive as “difficult”, “complex”, or expensive. Personality disorder labels erase our neurodivergencies, pathologise our LGBT+ identities, stigmatise our mental health difficulties, victim-blame trauma survivors, and conceal the true numbers of people in society who have experienced child abuse and sexual violence. By reframing our issues as arising from within us, the true sources of our distress, such as trauma, poverty, discrimination, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism, misogyny, classism, rape culture, and deprivation can be ignored.

Those of us who carry a personality disorder label face immense stigma and discrimination from society at large and from within healthcare services, social care services, and criminal justice systems. We may be excluded from mental health services; have complaints against public services dismissed; have our children taken into care or be blocked when applying to adopt; face prosecution for suicide attempts and self-harm; lose credibility in legal cases against our abusers; have physical health concerns dismissed and appropriate physical healthcare withheld; and be barred from contacting emergency services.

I believe one day the diagnostic category “personality disorder” will be abolished, and society will rightly look back both in horror that it ever existed, and in shame at how traumatised, marginalised, and stigmatised people were treated by services who were supposed to help. I really hope I live to see that day.

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