On the Brink of Disaster

Vulnerability to Mental Disorders


  • Valentina Petrolini Department of Linguistics and Basque Studies, Micaela Portilla Research Center, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba, Spain


psychiatry, vulnerability, at-risk states


The notions of at-risk and subthreshold conditions are increasingly discussed in psychiatry to describe mild, brief, or otherwise atypical syndromes that fail to meet the criteria for clinical relevance. However, the concept of vulnerability is still underexplored in philosophy of psychiatry. This article discusses psychiatric vulnerability to clarify some conceptual issues about the various factors contributing to vulnerability, the notions of risk and protection, and the idea that there are multiple ways of crossing the threshold to clinical relevance. My goal is to lay the groundwork for a finer-grained discussion on psychiatric vulnerability that reflects the complex nature of mental conditions and illustrates the kind of thinking needed in clinical practice.


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How to Cite

Petrolini, V. (2021). On the Brink of Disaster: Vulnerability to Mental Disorders. Philosophy of Medicine, 2(2). Retrieved from https://philmed.pitt.edu/philmed/article/view/10



Original Research Articles (philosophy of psychiatry)

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