Contra Kirkegaard On Evolutionary Definitions Of Mental Illness

Source: Astral Codex Ten

“Emil Kirkegaard proposes a semi-objective definition of ‘mental illness.’ … he seems to think I admit mental illnesses are ‘just preferences’ but that which preferences are valid vs. diseased can be decided by ‘what benefits my friends.’ I mostly don’t think mental illnesses are just preferences! I’ve been really clear on this! But Emil is right that I don’t deny that there can be a few cases where it’s hard to distinguish a mental illness from a preference — the clearest example is pedophilia vs. homosexuality. Both are ‘preferences’ for sex with unusual categories of people. But I would — making a value judgment — call pedophilia a mental illness: it’s bad for patients, bad for their potential victims, and bad for society. Also making a value judgment, I would call homosexuality an unusual but valid preference: it’s not my thing, but seems basically okay for everyone involved.” (09/07/23)