From Deficit to Desire: A Philosophical Reconsideration of Action Models of Psychopathology

Larry Davidson, Golan Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emerging action perspectives on psychopathology depict individuals as actively shaping those environmental conditions that then impact on their risk for psychopathology, resilience in the face of it, and successful recovery from it. This view, although having important implications for research and clinical practice, has yet to be articulated in terms of its underlying philosophical framework. To begin to address this challenge, we situate action theory in the context of the writings of Deleuze and Guattari, who, in their seemingly anti-psychiatric series entitled Capitalism and Schizophrenia, argue for the central role of human agency as a fundamentally active force in determining subjective life. Within this context, they propose an alternative approach to the current deficit focus of much psychopathology research, replacing the notion of deficit with a fundamentally productive notion of desire (what they call “desiring-production”). After our exposition of this philosophical perspective on human agency, implications of this approach for action-informed research and clinical practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2007


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