Are abusers mentally deficient? Are people who suffer abuse mentally deficient?
[July 21, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
If someone is diagnosed with a ‘personality disorder’ or a ‘mental health disorder’ – does that mean that person has a deficit? Does it mean that person is deficient? Should that person be excused? Should that person be given compassionate help and assistance?
Mental health professionals use terms like ‘disorder’ and ‘personality disorder’ very inconsistently. When they say a person has a disorder, they do not make it clear whether that person freely chooses to do wrong, or whether that person is prudently and judiciously resisting the wrongdoing done TO them by people who have wronged them.
Let’s think about these terms — disorder / personality disorder / mental health disorder — these are all terms that are used by the mental health profession.
If the abuser is labelled as having a disorder, it gives the abuser an excuse because the abuser is conceived as merely deficient (but not evil by choice)
If the abuser is said to have a disorder, that gives the abuser an excuse because the abuser is conceived as merely deficient.
It suggests that the abuser has limited freedom of choice because he has a problem which he did not choose to have and which is outside his control.
It suggests he has a pathology that he can’t help — as if he has some disease or genetic defect which he acquired through no fault of his own.
More to the point, it avoids saying what an abuser actually IS — evil and wicked through his repeated choices to do wrong.
If the victim of abuse is labelled as having a disorder, that conveys the idea that the victim is deficient and at fault
If the victim of abuse is labelled as having a disorder, that conveys the idea that the victim is deficient.
This deficit model sheds no light on all the ways the oppressed / mistreated / violated person has responded to the abuse….and creatively and prudently and judiciously resisted the abuse.
Allan Wade and his colleagues opened my eyes to how the deficit model is biased against victims and favours abusers.
I encourage all readers to review these posts:
Passages in the Bible which plainly say that the abuser plots to do evil
He plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not despise evil. (Psalm 36:4 NASB1995)
For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. (Proverbs 4:16-17 NASB1995)
Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands. (Micah 2:1 NASB1995)
The abuser puts his conscience in the deep freeze. He makes repeated choices to ignore his conscience until his conscience is seared and (practically speaking) he no longer has a conscience.
His choices, bit by bit, take him deeper and deeper down the spiral staircase. Dark ahead. Dark behind. With every step down the staircase it gets darker. With every step he self-justifies, rationalises, swells in self-glory, and gloats about hurting others and getting away with it.
His thinking becomes less and less based in reality. He blinds himself more and more, but he is responsible for blinding himself because he chooses to do so (see my series on Blindness).
When he dies he will face God — then his conscience will be very wide awake….and terrified.
The words ‘he’ and ‘his’ are used generically in this post. When thinking about your own experiences, switch the gender of the pronouns if need be.
I want to thank the reader / commenter who gave me the spiral staircase metaphor.
[July 21, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to July 21, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 21, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 21, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (July 21, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]