psychobabble
  • Developing a Historical Perspective
    by Philip Cushman
  • French Anti-Psychiatry
    by Sherrie Turkle
  • Political and Societal Implications
    by Derald Wing Sue & David Sue

  • LINKS
  • S.F. Society for Lacanian Studies Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis



  • (T)he political and societal implications
    (by DW Sue and D Sue) of psychiatric diagnosis and hospitalization were forcefully pointed out over 20 years ago by Laing(1967, 1969) and Szasz (1970, 1971). Laing believes that individual madness is but a reflection of the madness of society. He describes schizophrenic breakdowns as desperate strategies by people to liberate themselves from a "false self' used to maintain behavioral normality in our society. Attempts to adjust the person back to the original normality (sick society) are unethical.

    Szasz states this opinion even more strongly:
    In my opinion, mental illness is a myth. People we label "mentally ill" are not sick, and involuntary mental hospitalization is not treatment. It is punishment ... The fact that mental illness designates a deviation from an ethnical rule of conduct, and that such rules vary widely, explains why upper-middle-class psychiatrists can so easily find evidence of "mental illness" in lower-class individuals; and why so many prominent persons in the past fifty years or so have been diagnosed by their enemies as suffering from some types of insanity. Barry Goldwater was called a paranoid schizophrenic ... Woodrow Wilson, a neurotic ...Jesus Christ, according to two psychiatrists ... was a born degenerate with a fixed delusion system. (Szasz, 1970, pp. 167-168)

    Szasz sees the mental health professional as an inquisitor, an agent of society exerting social control on those individuals who deviate in thought
    and behavior from the accepted norms of society
    . Psychiatric hospitalization is believed to be a form of social control for persons who annoy or disturb us. The label "mental illness" may be seen as a political ploy used to control those who are different, and counseling is used to control, brainwash, or reorient the identified victims to fit into society. (from Counseling the Culturally Different: Theory & Practice, 2nd Ed., p 12.)