Countless numbers of people will benefit greatly from re-thinking the paradigm of mental illness or mental disorder as outlined by the profession of psychiatry. A profession that has now embraced what they puport to be the science of a medical model that espouses that mental illness is all-biological – that it is a brain disease, or a brain disorder, and that the only way to treat it is with psychiatric medication.
“Bio-psychiatry theorizes that emotional distress is a result of a defect in the brain. Yet, it does not understand the brain and its methods are to suppress the functioning of the brain. We must differentiate between the brain and the mind. Of the mind, it knows nothing and offers nothing.” – Dr Dan L. Edmunds
The definition of mental illness or mental disorder can also be challenged. Dr. Peter Breggin, M.D., himself a psychiatrist, argues that it is the psychiatric medications pushed by the marketing of biopsychiatry that is causing chemical imbalances in people’s brains – not that there is any mental “disease” that causes any such chemical imbalance as is the argument of the pseudo science of biopsychiatry.
I am a Life Coach and Mental Health Coach. I am a former consumer of mental health services. I will be blogging about my own experiences, beliefs, and opinions here. I am not a mental health professional or a doctor. I will, however, be providing many links, videos, and interviews via my online radio show The Psyche Whisperer for you contemplation on this very important topic.
In his books, The Myth of Mental Illness, The Manufacture of Madness, The Myth of Psychotherapy, and Ideology and Insanity, Thomas Szasz debunks the very notion of “mental illness.” He cogently argues that the notion of “mental illness” was invented through the mistaken use of metaphor and the self-serving definition of terms. So-called “mental illness” was invented by declaration and definition.
Way too many people believe what is being said, published, and of course given endless mainstream media attention about the medical model of mental illness as a brain disease. Why, you might wonder? The answer is simple. It’s not so much about it being all-true. It is way more about the fact that mainstream media, mainstream publishing, and professional journals, are all more or less in cohoots and have become a very exclusive club. An exclusive club funded largely by Big Pharma in the United States. They pay big money all over the place to keep dissenting opinions of anyone and that includes professional who do not agree that biopsychiatry is a science and who do believe it is a pseudo-science doing way more harm than good.
There will be much more here soon, please check back.
© A.J. Mahari, August 8, 2010 – All rights reserved.
Organizations critical of psychiatry
- Citizens Commission on Human Rights
- Dr. Peter Breggin’s Empathic Therapy Center
- The Society for Laingian Studies, R.D. Laing (1927–1989)
- Loren Mosher, MD, (1933–2004)
- The Thomas S. Szasz, MD, Cybercenter for Liberty and Responsibility
- International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology
- Mind FreedomA Support Coalition United Action for Human Rights in Mental Health
- International Center For Humane PsychiatryDr Dan L. Edmunds – Founder
- Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
- IAAPA International Association Against Psychiatric Assault
- PSAT Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto
- Tana Dineen, Ph.D
- Critical Psychiatry Website (UK) Network of Psychiatrists Critical to Psychiatry Working in the UK.
Thomas Szasz (left) was born to Julius and Lily Szasz on April 15, 1920, in Budapest, Hungary. In 1938 Szasz moved to the United States, where he attended the University of Cincinnati for his Bachelor of Arts in medicine, and received his medical degree from the same university in 1944. Szasz completed his residency requirement at the Cincinnati General Hospital, then worked at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis from 1951–1956, and then for the next five years was a member of its staff—taking twenty-four months out for active duty with the U.S. Navy. In 1962 Szasz received a tenured position in medicine at the State University of New York. Szasz had first joined SUNY in 1956. Szasz’s views of psychiatry were influenced by the writings of Frigyes Karinthy.
The Rise of Szasz’s arguments
Szasz first presented his attack on mental illness as a legal term in 1958 in the Columbia Law Review. In this article he argued that mental illness was no more a fact bearing on a suspect’s guilt than is possession by the devil.
In 1961 Szasz gave testimony before a United States Senate committee in which he argued that the use of mental hospitals to incarcerate people defined as insane violated the general assumptions of patient and doctor relationships and turned the doctor into a warden and a keeper of a prison.
According to Dr. Thomas Szasz:
“People who are said (by themselves or others) to “have” a mental illness can only have, at best, a “fake disease.” Diagnoses of “mental illness” or “mental disorder” (the latter expression called by Szasz a “weasel term” for mental illness) are passed off as “scientific categories” but they remain merely judgments (judgments of disdain) to support certain uses of power by psychiatric authorities. In that line of thinking, schizophrenia is not the name of a disease entity but a judgment of extreme psychiatric and social reprobation. Szasz calls schizophrenia “the sacred symbol of psychiatry” because those so labeled have long provided and continue to provide justification for psychiatric theories, treatments, abuses, and reforms. The figure of the psychotic or schizophrenic person to psychiatric experts and authorities, according to Szasz, is analogous with the figure of the heretic or blasphemer to theological experts and authorities. According to Szasz, to understand the metaphorical nature of the term “disease” in psychiatry, one must first understand its literal meaning in the rest of medicine. To be a true disease, the entity must first, somehow be capable of being approached, measured, or tested in scientific fashion. Second, to be confirmed as a disease, a condition must demonstrate pathology at the cellular or molecular level.”
“A genuine disease must also be found on the autopsy table (not merely in the living person) and meet pathological definition instead of being voted into existence by members of the American Psychiatric Association. “Mental illnesses” are really problems in living. They are often “like a” disease, argues Szasz, which makes the medical metaphor understandable, but in no way validates it as an accurate description or explanation. Psychiatry is a pseudo-science that parodies medicine by using medical sounding words invented especially over the last 100 years. To be clear, heart break and heart attack, or spring fever and typhoid fever belong to two completely different logical categories, and treating one as the other constitutes a category error, that is, a myth. Psychiatrists are the successors of “soul doctors”, priests who dealt and deal with the spiritual conundrums, dilemmas, and vexations — the “problems in living” — that have troubled people forever.”
Psychiatry’s main methods are those of conversation or rhetoric, repression, and religion. To the extent that psychiatry presents these problems as “medical diseases,” its methods as “medical treatments,” and its clients — especially involuntary — as medically ill patients, it embodies a lie and therefore constitutes a fundamental threat to freedom and dignity. Psychiatry, supported by the State through various Mental Health Acts, has become a modern secular state religion according to Thomas Szasz. It is a vastly elaborate social control system, using both brute force and subtle indoctrination, which disguises itself under the claims of scientificity. The notion that biological psychiatry is a real science or a genuine branch of medicine has been challenged by other critics as well, such as Michel Foucault in Madness and Civilization (1961), and Erving Goffman in Asylums (1961).