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“Personality disorder” and capacity to make treatment decisions
  1. G Szmukler1,2
  1. 1
    Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, UK
  2. 2
    South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor G Szmukler, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, UK; g.szmukler{at}


Whether treatment decision-making capacity can be meaningfully applied to patients with a diagnosis of “personality disorder” is examined. Patients presenting to a psychiatric emergency clinic with threats of self-harm are considered, two having been assessed and reviewed in detail. It was found that capacity can be meaningfully assessed in such patients, although the process is more complex than in patients with diagnoses of a more conventional kind. The process of assessing capacity in such patients is very time-consuming and may become, in itself, a therapeutic intervention.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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