Delusions, harmful dysfunctions, and treatable conditions

Peter Clutton*, Stephen Gadsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


It has recently been suggested that delusions be conceived of as symptoms on the harmful dysfunction account of disorder: delusions sometimes arise from dysfunction, but can also arise through normal cognition. Much attention has thus been payed to the question of how we can determine whether a delusion arises from dysfunction as opposed to normal cognition. In this paper, we consider another question, one that remains under-explored: which delusions warrant treatment? On the harmful dysfunction account, this question dissociates from the question about dysfunction—there are a broad range of “treatable conditions” beyond mere harmful dysfunctions. As such, many conditions that arise from normal cognition are also eligible for medical intervention. We argue that some delusions that arise from normal cognition may well fall under the banner of treatable conditions. We examine the practical and ethical questions surrounding such treatment, including the issue of coercive and deceptive treatment options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-181
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Delusion
  • Disorder
  • Dysfunction
  • Symptom
  • Treatment


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