What Is Antipsychiatry? by Thomas Szasz

by Thomas Szasz

Merriam-Webster defines psychiatry as “a branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders”; Wikipedia, as “a medical specialty which exists to study, prevent, and treat mental disorders in humans.” These descriptions do not tell us what the psychiatrist does and is expected, legally and professionally, to do. That non-disclosure disguises the ugly truth: psychiatry is coercion masquerading as care. It is testimony to the effectiveness of that feeble disguise – and of our aversion to recognizing embarrassing truths about ourselves and our honored institutions – that most libertarian writers have given, and continue to give, psychiatry a free ride.

Medical specialists are distinguished by the diagnostic and therapeutic methods that characterize their work: the pathologist examines cells, tissues, and body fluids; the surgeon cuts into the living body, removes diseased tissues, and repairs malfunctioning body parts; the anesthesiologist renders the patient unconscious and insensitive to pain; and the psychiatrist coerces and excuses: he identifies innocent persons as “mentally ill and dangerous to themselves and others” and deprives them of liberty, and he excuses people of their responsibilities for their actions and obligations by testifying in court under oath that persons guilty of lawbreaking are not responsible for their criminal acts. The former practice is called “civil commitment,” the latter, “the insanity defense.” These legal-psychiatric interventions constitute the pillars upon which the edifice called “psychiatry” rests.

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Pubblicato il 31 July, 2009
Categoria: Libri, Notizie

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