Based on Szasz's critique, how does society define psychological abnormality? To what extent do you agree or disagree with Szasz? Thomas Szasz was a psychiatrist who was highly critical of the...

Based on Szasz's critique, how does society define psychological abnormality? To what extent do you agree or disagree with Szasz?

Thomas Szasz was a psychiatrist who was highly critical of the fields of psychology and psychiatry. In 1960 he published a very controversial critique of these fields.

 
 

 

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Karyth Cara | College Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Szasz first denounces the ideas that (1) mental illness (abnormal behavior) is a disease of the brain traceable to physiochemical processes and that (2) mental illness is a deviation of behavior from the norm.

His own position is stated as asserting that what is called "mental illness" (or abnormal behavior) is not this but rather a "problem with living" that pertains to an individual's moral code, thus is a problem of morality and not a problem of physiochemicals nor of deviant behavior.

problems in living -- whether these be biologic, economic, political, or sociopsychological. ... this group mainly with those pertaining to moral values. ... My argument was limited to the proposition that mental illness is a myth, whose function it is to disguise and thus render more palatable the bitter pill of moral conflicts in human relations. (Szasz)

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