Are there relational disorders? A harmful dysfunction perspective: Comment on the special section

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Abstract

Can relational disorders exist as genuine medical disorders, even when there is no disorder in either individual participating in the relationship? Using the harmful dysfunction analysis of the concept of disorder as a framework, this comment on the special section on Relational Disorders (September 2006 issue of the Journal of Family Psychology) presents the argument that relational disorders do indeed exist. The harmful dysfunction analysis holds that disorders are harmful failures of biologically selected functions. The position argued for here is that there are evolutionarily selected functions that depend for their performance on the nature of the interaction between individuals and that these relational functions can fail, even when both individuals are normal, because of mismatches between normal variations. Thus, there are genuine relational dysfunctions that, when harmful, are relational disorders. Indeed, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) currently misclassifies some sexual relational disorders as individual disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-427
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Keywords

  • DSM
  • Diagnosis
  • Harmful dysfunction
  • Mental disorder
  • Relational disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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