The Myth of Mental Illness, revisited

Excerpted from Dark Escape

The Myth of “Mental Illness”

Many medics and psychologists still claim that there are “mental illnesses” as well as physical illnesses. In the early 1960s Thomas Szasz unmasked the belief as the myth, and was promptly ostracized for his revelation, the doctrine surviving all attacks since that time. Hidden in the doctrine is the assumption that something is wrong with the brain of any person who is labeled “mentally ill.” If the brain defect is the culprit then all parties involved are relieved of responsibility—the identified patients, their parents, and the labeling authorities. If, on the other hand, there are no “mental illnesses,” as Szasz averred, then none of the parties escapes responsibility. Neither the identified patients, nor their parents, nor their labelers wish to be held responsible, so the doctrine of “mental illness” survives. All parties, including the identified patients, assume that the underlying brain defect is incurable, and so advocate the use of brain disabling drugs to limit the frequency and severity of the identified patient’s absurd habits.

Those with training and experience in corrective counseling know better. They understand, some more than others of course, that the so-called “mental illnesses” are social arrangements used to escape responsibility. So what they do is designed to encourage actions on the part of their clients, which will make them feel better about themselves. Demonstrating to their clients that they, the counselors, deem them worthwhile, is the first step, and a necessary step, to dispelling their feeling of worthlessness and the abiding dread of being found out. Valuing their clients as worthwhile individuals is implied in each of several powerful methods of corrective counseling that have been developed, most of them during the last half of the 20th century. Unfortunately the true believers in the doctrine of “mental illness” remain ignorant of these methods.

Hippocrates said to healers that if they cannot help their clients they can at least “do no harm.” Too bad that most would-be healers have no training in corrective counseling. To prescribe brain disabling drugs for their clients is to harm them, often irreparably. Best, then, that they put down their pretense that they can help people who use absurd habits in self defense, and pick up the practice of healing the body. Best also that they leave the correction of absurd habits to those who know how to do it. “Psychiatry” is dead, as it should be.

The Myth of Mental Illness

About Keirsey

Dr. David Mark Keirsey is a scientist that is interested in how and why the world works. The first half of his professional career was as a Computer Scientist, specializing in Artificial Intelligence. Notably, he was part of a team who created the software for the first operation of an autonomous cross-country robotic vehicle. In the current latter part of his career, he has broaden his interest to include all of science, mathematics, computation, and the history and future of the world. His plan is to write at least three books, two of which are tentatively called Mathematics Itself and Existence Itself. The third is a book on Leadership. Currently he is part of a web-based company, to develop interactive team and human personality tools based on his father's best-selling work on human temperament. He is a Architect Rational in temperament.
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