Current Ideas: A Blog by Jeffrey A. Schaler

I've created this blog--"Current Ideas"--to share news and views related to my teaching, writing, and interests. If you want to post something, please keep it brief and to the point. Good contact is the appreciation of difference. There's no limit on opinions or information posting, but the tone of this blog is one of reasonably civilized discussion. Hate material is out, as well as unsupported extreme personal attacks.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Maryland, United States

Thursday, September 06, 2007

MENTAL ILLNESS: PHILOSOPHY MASQUERADING AS MEDICINE

Electronic Letters to:

Book reviews:
Derek Bolton
The Metaphor of Mental Illness
Br J Psychiatry 2007; 191: 271 [Full text] [PDF] eLetters: Submit a response to this article

Electronic letters published:

MENTAL ILLNESS: PHILOSOPHY MASQUERADING AS MEDICINE
Jeffrey A. Schaler (6 September 2007)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MENTAL ILLNESS: PHILOSOPHY MASQUERADING AS MEDICINE 6 September 2007

Jeffrey A. Schaler,
Professor
Dept. of Justice, Law & Society, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, D.C.
Send letter to journal:
Re: MENTAL ILLNESS: PHILOSOPHY MASQUERADING AS MEDICINE
Jeffrey A. Schaler


In his review of Neil Pickering’s book, The Metaphor of Mental Illness, Derek Bolton correctly suggests that the analysis of mental illness has more to do with philosophy than science or medicine (Bolton, 2007). Mental illness refers to the moral and ethical judgment of behavior, not biology, neurology or pathology. This distinction – discovered, not “invented” by professor of psychiatry emeritus Thomas Szasz over forty-five years ago – does not go out of style. Consequently, any policy – legal, clinical, social, public – based on the idea that mind is physical, and that mental illness is identifiable in a cadaver at autopsy, can only fail. The premise on which the policy is based is false.

Part of Szasz’s genius has always been his articulation of the obvious (Schaler, 2004). If mental illness refers to a brain disease, then it would be listed in a standard textbook on pathology as such. It is not listed as a brain disease precisely because mental illness refers to behavior, not a cellular lesion.

In an interview with Michael Rybalka, the great existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre remarked: “There is philosophy, but there is no psychology. Psychology [Psychiatry] does not exist; either it is idle talk or it is an effort to establish what man is, starting from philosophical notions” (Rybalka, 2002, p. 245).

Bolton, R. (2007) The metaphor of mental illness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 191: 271.

Rybalka, M. (2002) Interview with Jean-Paul Sartre. In Genius In Their Own Words: The Intellectual Journeys of Seven Great 20th-Century Thinkers, (ed D.R. Steele), pp. 241-253. Open Court.

Schaler, J.A. (ed) (2004) Szasz Under Fire: The Psychiatric Abolitionist Faces His Critics. Open Court.





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME HELP FEEDBACK SUBSCRIPTIONS ARCHIVE SEARCH
Psychiatric Bulletin Advances in Psychiatric Treatment All RCPsych Journals
Copyright © 2007 The Royal College of Psychiatrists.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home