The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz

Dr. Szasz seems to regard mental illness as a moral failure rather than a genuine illness, and he seems to think the mentally ill deserve judgment rather than treatment. Most mentally ill patients, he believes, are merely social misfits and malingerers rather than people suffering from a disease. His arguments are philosophical rather than scientific, but they are nevertheless somewhat cogent. Unfortunately, the mental illness he chiefly focuses is on is “hysteria,” which, as anyone who has looked at the DSM-IV knows, is merely one of hundreds of mental illnesses that afflict modern man. Moreover, his arguments seem to be chiefly a reaction against Freudian psychoanalysis, which mainstream modern psychiatry has already mostly discredited. Dr. Szasz’s case is not entirely without merit, but anyone who has been around someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression can tell that something is seriously wrong and that the illness is not imaginary. Wrong, Dr. Szasz.

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