The inclusion of adjustment in human lived experience as a mental disorder is problematic. Adjustment disorder has been criticised for its overuse and its lack of specificity in its employment as a diagnostic category. We present a preliminary reading of the mal/adjusted subject through a Foucauldian theoretical perspective by focusing on how it is told in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and positions the subject in a moral (dis)order. In turning the history of clinical mal/adjustment on itself through a reading of the DSM, we tentatively conclude that mal/adjustment continues to be problematic because of discontinuities in its own rules of formation. We conclude that the DSM’s (re)productions of mal/adjusted subject positions form an uncontrollable excess of emotion that morally constitutes and (dis)orders the subject as feminine. This is despite the DSM-IV claims that adjustment disorder is equally prevalent in men and women.


adjustment, adjustment disorder, maladjustment, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM, subject position, moral order, Foucauldian theory, mental disorder, mental illness, critical psychology

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