Death of Thomas Szasz – Response to Time Magazine ‘The Denial of Mental Illness is Alive and Well’

In response to an article in Time Magazine The Denial of Mental Illness is Alive and Well (or , which celebrates the earthly riddance of Thomas Szasz.

As a survivor and overcomer (after 38 years) of what this person deems mental illness without medications, because medications would never work for me (I was amongst the 40% for which they don’t in my class of diagnoses); I will claim the expertise of being at the front lines of psychosis. The writer (Judith Warner) is only an armchair general.

The main thesis of Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness) was this. There are no physiological markers which identify and correlate to psychological disorders (as opposed to neurological disorders). This is still true, especially once one gets past the B.S. propaganda that the psych pros give to the public and look at what they say to each other (especially outside the U.S.). Therefore, it is unproven that it is a physiological disease. Consequently, a rational logic determines that the lines delineating mental disorder from mental order are capricious and arbitrary; hardly a scientific attribute. In Szasz’s view, mental illness is a cultural construct. Until proven otherwise, reason dictates Szasz far more correct than psychiatry. (I have my own thesis).

This writer (Judith Warner) merely conducts cheap, incidental potshots on the person without confronting his central thesis. Indeed, he sounds like a shill for the discipline.

She writes:

The profession of psychiatry has changed enormously since the time that Szasz began writing, mostly in good ways.

The profession has not changed. It is only under legal restraints that prevent its history of barbarism to continue, much like the financial regulatory system, which was in place (Glass-Steagall Act – 1933) kept the bankers under wraps from repeating behaviours that led to the Great Crash of 1929. That is until after 1999, when the Act was repealed.

My observation of psychiatric professionals is that there is not an inconsiderable level of deceit and bullying. They have amongst the least psychological insight of any set of people I have ever known. I found out after recovering that the reason is in their training.

They have no coherent philosophy or theory of mind which can sustain under rational scrutiny even amongst fellow neuroscientists. (Therefore, trusting in psychiatry is like trusting car mechanics, who have no understanding of an overall system of a car and its schematics.) What we know about the brain and the mind is still very rudimentary, despite bold proclamations on PBS Charlie Rose specials; especially when one compares their knowledge to silicon networks and computer systems to which they themselves utilize for comparison (i.e. Fodor’s modularity of mind). Despite Benjamin Libet’s experiments, there is no proof that physiology precedes psychology. Libet has an extremely flawed and self-serving conceptual understanding of Free Will. The idea of carrying on a face-paced and brisk political debate on the basis of instantaneous physiological neurochemical reactions to one’s interlocutor’s conversation are so absurd, it is surprising that no one brings it up.

To the best of my observation, ‘so-called’ healing is based on shutting down subsystems in the brain,. This is not unlike an AS/400 or Mainframe in which an errant program is spitting out page ejects on system printers. The first thing the operator does is to shut down the print spooler service. (However, this is hardly a long term solution.) This idea about saving a person by destroying him, to paraphrase a Viet Nam reference, has been mentioned within the discipline itself over the years; especially in the early years. See ‘Mad in America’ (Robert Whitaker). However, the dogmatism and political pressures within the profession do their darnedest to prevent any future outbreaks of gadflies like Thomas Szasz

The DSM would give Jon Stewart a year’s worth of comedic material if he were so inclined to use it. To give an example; there is an entry in the DSM IV called Brain Fag or Brain Fog, found only in West Africa. Its main risk factor is the ability to speak English. (Apparently, the people there have genetic mutations and neurotransmitters that respond to words in English ).

I rest my case.


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