THE MORALITY OF MENTAL ILLNESS: Thomas Szasz's Critique of Psychiatry.

Item request has been placed! ×
Item request cannot be made. ×
loading   Processing Request
  • Author(s): Vice, Janet
  • Source:
    Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Summer89, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p385. 9p.
  • Additional Information
    • Subject Terms:
    • Abstract:
      Summary "Mental illness" is not truly a medical diagnosis, argues Thomas Szasz. Instead, it is a moral judgment that society passes on its deviant members. "Mental illness" relieves a person of responsibility for his or her actions, but in so doing it also justifies appropriating that person's freedom of choice, the necessary prerequisite of responsible action. Psychiatry is a social tool for accomplishing these goals, the results of which are involuntary commitment and the insanity defense. For Szasz, "persons" are characterizable above all else by their autonomy. An autonomous person makes uncoerced choices and accepts responsibility for those choices. Psychiatry undermines both characteristics of autonomy. Involuntary commitment allows psychiatrists to appropriate patients' freedom of choice. The insanity defense allows persons to escape the responsibility for their actions. Both procedures turn patients into nonpersons. Szasz wishes to replace the hidden moral judgment operative in psychiatric diagnoses with an open moral judgment. Psychiatrists and patients both need to return to the moral community. Psychiatrists do this when they stop appropriating the autonomy of others while pretending to practice medicine. Patients do this when they accept responsibility for their own choices and actions. One cannot be relieved of this responsibility without losing his or her place in the moral community as well. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
      Copyright of Journal of Humanistic Psychology is the property of Sage Publications Inc. and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)