The treatment of aliens

Grant Gillett

in The Mind and its Discontents

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780199237548
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754555 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

The treatment of aliens

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Aliens are neither people nor things, they are abject. The idea that human beings could be alienated and thus drift outside the normal bounds of moral discourse shapes the metaphysics of mental disorder in terms of abjection in relation to ‘the normal human condition’ and informs psychiatric classification and treatment. The contrast between objective (thing-related) and reactive (person-related) attitudes to human beings is developed by Strawson in his discussion of freedom, but is highly pertinent to psychiatric classification and treatment. I will explore the links between this idea, abjection or alienation, and Fulford's contrast between factual and evaluative aspects of clinical judgement. I will also explore the ways in which the tension between these attitudes pervades psychiatric practice and the puzzles surrounding our relations with those who are other ‘by reason of insanity’.

Chapter.  12263 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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