'Dangerous and severe personality disorder': a psychiatric manifestation of the risk society

Corbett, Kevin and Westwood, T. (2005) 'Dangerous and severe personality disorder': a psychiatric manifestation of the risk society. Critical Public Health, 15 (2) . pp. 121-133. ISSN 0958-1596 print/ISSN 1469-3682 online [Article] (doi:10.1080/09581590500144918)


This paper analyses the newly proposed United Kingdom (UK) psychiatric diagnosis of ‘dangerous and severe personality disorder’ (‘DSPD’). The aim is to show how the category of ‘DSPD’ manifests aspects of Beck's analysis of the ‘risk society’ and poststructural ‘governmentality’ approaches to understanding the notion of risk. Concepts such as ‘dangerousness’, ‘violence’ and ‘risk’ are critically reviewed in relation to ‘DSPD’ and are found to be less than objective. The paper interrogates the political underpinnings of this newly proposed diagnosis and analyses pre-existing frameworks of potential utility for developing further understanding of dangerousness and violent behaviour. Key issues are critically discussed in relation to the concept of ‘dangerousness’ including the reliability of assessment tools, the socioeconomic status of those potentially diagnosed with DSPD and detention without committing any prior offence. The paper also discusses the potential for conflict between the proposed legislation, the UK Human Rights Act 1998, healthcare practice and the likelihood of divided professional loyalties. The paper argues that this newly proposed public health policy has a sociopolitical rather than psychiatric rationale for justifying psychiatric detention and, as such, is a psychiatric manifestation of the late modern culture of risk.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education > Adult, Child and Midwifery
Item ID: 17675
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Kevin Corbett
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2015 13:08
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:36
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/17675

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.