We have begun reading a masterpiece, The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz, second only in significance to Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
In this powerful book, Szasz argues that by diagnosing unwanted behaviour as mental illness, psychiatrists absolve individuals of responsibility for their actions, rather blaming their alleged illnesses. Example, in the case of this blog’s readership: Bulimia Nervosa.
It’s crazy!!! Just like during my inaugural read of Atlas Shrugged, with every flip of the Myth’s rational, pretty pages, I am exclaiming, yes! yes! yes!, this is precisely of how I think!!! Eye rollingly ‘controversial’ because it challenges the generally accepted ‘normal,’ Szasz, former professor emeritus of psychiatry at the State University of New York, where he taught since 1956, maintained in his book that ‘mental illness’ ie ‘human problems’ are not diseases. Homosexuality and hysteria in the olden days. Bulimia, insomnia, and drug addictions of the modern. Recall my article, ‘I Have Homosexuality‘? Spot on with Szasz and his rational arguments.
The book speaks much on the medical mongering by the state.
“Politicians, pandering to the public’s ever-present fears of dangers, find the psychiatrists’ willingness to define deviance as disease and social control as treatment useful in their quest to enlarge the scope and power of the therapeutic state. Moreover, the belief that so-called mental health problems stand in the same relation to brain diseases as, say, urinary problems stand in relation to kidney diseases is superficially attractive, even plausible. The argument goes like this: The human body is a biological machine, composed of parts called organs, such as kidneys, the lungs, and the liver. Each organ has a ‘natural function,’ and when one of these fails, we have a disease. If we define human problems as the symptoms of brain diseases, and if we have the power to impose our definition on an entire society, then they are brain diseases, even if the absence of any medically ascertainable evidence of brain disease. We can then treat mental diseases as if they were brain disease.” (Preface, xxii – xxiii).
“A living human being – a person – is not merely a collection of organs, tissues, and cells. The pancreas may be said to have a natural function. But what is the natural function of the person? That is like asking what is the meaning of life, which is a religious-philosophical, not medical-scientific, question. Individuals professing different religious faiths have kidneys so similar that one may be transplanted into the body of another without altering his personal identity, but their beliefs and habits differ so profoundly that they often find it difficult or impossible to live with one another.” (Preface, xxiii).
Ray Porter, noted English medical historian, wrote in his book, Madness: A Brief History, “For Szasz, who has continued to uphold these opinions for the last forty years, mental illness is not a disease, whose nature is being elucidated by science; it is rather a myth, fabricated by psychiatrists for reasons of professional advancement and endorsed by society because it sanctions easy solutions for problem people. Over the centuries, he alleges, medical men and their supporters have been involved in a self-serving ‘manufacture of madness,’ by affixing psychiatric labels to people who are social pests, odd, or challenging.” (Preface, xxvii).
Psychiatrists sound like a bunch of looters to me! The dogs agree!
We now enter Chapter One of this exciting book: Growth and Structure of the Myth.
Is mental illness an excuse, or is it real?
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