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Disruptive Behaviors: A Capabilities Approach

Definition

Disruptive behaviors are behaviors breaking valued social practices. While people engaging in some forms of disruptive behaviors may be seen as admirable (e.g., M.L. King, Jr.), others are seen as problematic. Prototypical examples of problematic disruptive behaviors (PDB) may range from unwarranted forms of protest to unreasonable opposition to authorities, to harming or abusing others. A traditional narrative used to account for PDB invokes an underlying dysfunction/pathology in an individual, called a “mental disorder.” Alternatively, and drawing from the capabilities approach to human development (Nussbaum 2011), PDB can be understood as reflecting affiliation discapabilities,a term we use to indicate a shortage in individuals’ culturally expected ability to relate to others meaningfully and respectfully (i.e., affiliation capabilities), as the result of current and/or past adverse social environments amounting to socially unjust conditions (or situations of nonequal...

Keywords

  • Disruptive behaviors
  • Externalizing behaviors
  • Misconduct
  • Capabilities
  • Disability
  • Social justice

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    This vignette represents a prototypical case informed by our own clinical practice but does not correspond to any actual case.

  2. 2.

    As we discussed earlier, “social deviant behaviors” are not considered mental disorders “unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual” (APA 2013, p. 20). To retain validity (over reliability) of the concept, “dysfunction” here must be defined in bio/evolutionist terms (Wakefield 1992a). Of course, such restrictive view may be at odds with how DSM-5 users may understand mental disorders (e.g., as interpretable phenomena; see also Strong 2017).

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Appendix A

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Gaete, J., Gaete, A. (2021). Disruptive Behaviors: A Capabilities Approach. In: Lester, J.N., O'Reilly, M. (eds) The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Critical Perspectives on Mental Health. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12852-4_49-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-12852-4_49-1

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