Deconstructing Mental Illness

According to Jerome Elan of the Washington Times, schizophrenics who abuse drugs are more likely to commit violent crimes than other people. This doesn’t answer the question: Where did the schizophrenia originate from? At one time, there were people who blamed this problem on poor parenting and the term “schizophrenogenic mother” came into being. Then that was not deemed politically correct so it was dropped. Besides, it is more comforting to blame an unknown “disease” process than to reflect hard on one’s own behavior to rule out responsibility for hurting one’s children. Elan goes on to say, “Elements of psychopathy may be genetic, and overwhelming stress can combine with a psychopathic nature, to cause a reaction that is emotional or just the opposite, coldhearted.” That sounds like a nice explanation, but what research is it based on? The Myth of Disease In Mental Illness Back in 1960, Thomas Szasz wrote a book called The Myth of Mental Illness. I used it as a resource for my 1968 college honors research paper that is reprinted on this site. In researching this article, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Szasz, in 2011, was still alive, well, and kicking. In 2011, he apparently re-printed his book with a new introduction. Here’s what it says: “The claim that ‘mental illnesses are diagnosable disorders of the brain’ is not based on scientific research; it is a lie, an error.” Szasz’s contention is that if a particular disease in or of the brain is found in a person with abnormal behavior, then the initial diagnosis of “mental” disorder must be corrected to reflect a...
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