Keir Harding says those who have lived through trauma deserve better, and Ash Charlton says it is a myth that one of the biggest predictors for an adult becoming an abuser is if they have been abused themselvesAlexandra Shimo is right to highlight the travesty of people who have lived through traumatic experiences being labelled as having disordered personalities (Opinion, 27 March). Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive behavioural therapy, describes two therapists talking: “I’m having trouble with my patient with personality disorder.” “How do you know they have personality disorder?” “Because I’m having trouble with them.”
This gut-feeling approach to diagnosis happens all too often in the UK. But things are changing. Next week is the 20th British and Irish Group for the Study of “Personality Disorder” annual conference in Durham. The inverted commas are indicative of the scepticism that members hold of the value of the personality disorder label. The conference is being launched by poet Clare Shaw, a staunch critic of the borderline personality disorder diagnosis, while other keynote sessions look at the impact of deprivation and trauma. We are moving away from “what is wrong with you?” and looking closer at “what happened to you?”.