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Section 3 — Meaning of "mental Disorder" in the 1984 Act

Part of Mental Health (Public Safety and Appeals) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 2 – in the Scottish Parliament at 4:45 pm on 8th September 1999.

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Photo of Kay Ullrich Kay Ullrich Scottish National Party 4:45 pm, 8th September 1999

In proposing amendment 28, the Scottish National party is seeking to do two things: to clarify the definition of personality disorder, and to ensure that personality disorder is classified as a mental disorder as opposed to a mental illness. As drafted, the bill makes no distinction between people who exhibit dangerous, aggressive, anti-social behaviour, and people who are neither dangerous nor anti-social, but who may suffer from a non-aggressive personality disorder. Surely we cannot allow personality disorder to become a blanket term that covers a range of conditions, most of which would not normally attract the description of mental illness.

Personality disorders are not uncommon. As Michael Matheson pointed out, it is fair to say that many members in the chamber today have a personality disorder of one kind or another. If one believes what has been written in some of the newspapers, our disorders range from having a somewhat suspect personality to being deemed to have had a complete personality bypass.

If the description is not amended it will include people who may have an obsession with washing their hands and cleanliness, or those who suffer from agoraphobia or claustrophobia.

We must realise the importance of ensuring that the definition does not become a catch-all, which could have serious implications that go far beyond closing the loophole that emerged as a result of the Ruddle case.