Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences

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Syracuse University Press, 1997 - Medical - 414 pages
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From one of the most renowned and controversial thinkers in behavioral science, here is a critical examination of the way both science and society define insanity. Attacking the universally accepted psychiatric doctrines that blur the distinction between literal and metaphoric diseases, Szasz argues that insanity is not an objectively definable or identifiable condition and presents a more fully-rounded account of the insanity concept, showing how it relates to and differs from three closely allied ideas--social deviance, bodily illness and the sick role. Reveals why it is truly impossible to understand psychiatric problems without first distinguishing an abnormal biological condition--like diabetes--from the sick role. Destined to become a classic, this is an important addition to the author's already impressive body of work.
 

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Insanity: the idea and its consequences

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Szasz is the well-known anti-psychiatric psychiatrist who first attacked the "myth of mental illness'' 25 years ago. Several books since, including the present one, seem redundantly to echo his attack ... Read full review

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I find his effort an astonishing piece of work in bringing false ideas to light. Thomas has confirmed a suspicion that insanity is no more than a misguided belief. Everyone with a mind should read his work.

Contents

Defining Illness
9
Being a Patient
27
Defining Mental Illness
47
Being a Mental Patient
99
THE CONCEPTUAL DIMENSIONS
133
Mental Illness and the Problem of Imitation
200
Mental Illness and the Problem of Intentionality
216
Mental Illness and the Problem of Responsibility
237
Mental Illness as Strategy
281
Mental Illness as Justification
297
Mental Illness as Legal Fiction
319
Mental Illness as Explanation
342
References
367
Bibliography
391
Subject Index
405
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About the author (1997)

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) was professor of psychiatry emeritus at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, Washington, DC. He was a prominent figure in the anti-psychiatry movement and a critic of the moral and scientific foundation of psychiatry.

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