Mental Status Exams done by psychiatrists often include a description of the "relatedness" of a patient. Sometimes, patients are described as "oddly related." What is "relatedness" and what qualifies as "oddly related"?

A google search for "oddly related psychiatry" shows a similar question on reddit and allnurses without a proper answer unfortunately.


Chris' answer is very thorough and describes the theory of relatedness. However, in practice when psychiatrists use the term 'related' on the behavior section of the mental status exam, they are referring to the way a patient is relating to the physician or other provider in that conversation.

In this framework, a 'normally related' person would be having a conversation the way one would expect given cultural context. An 'oddly related' person would not. The term is extremely broad however and so needs specifics for clarification. For example, a person identified as oddly-related might be alternating between being engaged and totally disengaged from a conversation without obvious pattern. However any number of other 'oddities' in their engagement with the physician could also be classified this way.

It is a relatively small component of the behavior section of mental status exam and will ideally be clarified where necessary.


Relatedness is part of Self-determination theory.

Self-determination Theory (SDT) is just that — a model, a macro theory, of human motivation (Singer, 2017).

and refers to the need to feel connected to others (Wang et al. 2019). It is

people’s need to care about and be cared about by others, to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives, and to feel that they are contributing to something greater than themselves (Fowler, 2014).

In a paper by Martela & Riekki (2018), they said

Based on research on self-determination theory, basic psychological needs, and prosocial impact, we suggest that there are four psychological satisfactions that substantially influence work meaningfulness across cultures: autonomy (sense of volition), competence (sense of efficacy), relatedness (sense of caring relationships), and beneficence (sense of making a positive contribution).

Without more information from the person who wrote this, the comment "oddly related" cannot be meaningfully interpreted.

Further Reading

Keller, H. (2016). Psychological autonomy and hierarchical relatedness as organizers of developmental pathways. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371(1686), 20150070. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0070


Fowler, S. (2014). What Maslow’s Hierarchy Won’t Tell You About Motivation Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2014/11/what-maslows-hierarchy-wont-tell-you-about-motivation

Martela, F., & Riekki, T. J. (2018). Autonomy, competence, relatedness, and beneficence: A multicultural comparison of the four pathways to meaningful work. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1157. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01157

Singer, L. (2017). Self-determination Theory: Understanding Human Motivation for Fun and Profit https://leif.me/2017/01/self-determination-theory-understanding-human-motivation-for-fun-and-profit/

Wang, C. J., Liu, W. C., Kee, Y. H., & Chian, L. K. (2019). Competence, autonomy, and relatedness in the classroom: understanding students’ motivational processes using the self-determination theory. Heliyon, 5(7), e01983. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e01983


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