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Mental health and mental disorder - Essay Example

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Schizophrenia can simply be defined as multifaceted mental ailment. The schizophrenic disorders are characterised in general by fundamental and characteristic distortions of thinking and perception, and by inappropriate or blunted affect. Clear consciousness and intellectual capacity are usually maintained, although certain cognitive deficits may evolve.
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Mental health and mental disorder Essay
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Mental health and mental disorder

(See his discussion of the two classes of disability. Szasz 1961/1972 p.54). The illness model of mental disturbances with an analysis in terms of meaningful (but perhaps unconscious) communication. Hysteria, for example, is a psychological disorder that manifests itself as physical illness. Szasz describes it as a dramatised representation of the message my body is not functioning well. The mental illness called depression is a dramatisation of the proposition 'I am unhappy'. (Szasz 1961/1972 p.202)
The myth of mental illness: Schizophrenia and other mental disorders are simply semantic artefacts and do not really exist. While people behave and think in ways that are very disturbing, this does not mean they have a disease.
Separation of psychiatry and the state: If we accept that 'mental illness' is a euphemism for behaviours that are disapproved of, then the state has no right to force psychiatric 'treatment' on these individuals. Similarly, the state should not be able to interfere in mental health practices between consenting adults.
Presumption of competence: Just as legal systems work on the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty, individuals accused of crimes should not be presumed incompetent simply because a doctor or psychiatrist labels them as such.
Death Control: In an analogy to birth control Szasz argues that individuals should be able to choose when to die without interference from medicine or the state, just as they are able to choose when to conceive without outside interference.
Abolition of the insanity defence: Szasz believes that testimony about the mental competence of a defendant should not be admissible in trials.
Abolition of involuntary mental hospitalisation: No one should be deprived of liberty unless he is found guilty of a criminal offence.
Legalisation of illegal drugs: Although Szasz opposes psychotropic medications; he favours the legalisation of illegal drugs.


1. How was mental illness treated before Szasz's claim
Three mental illnesses that have received attention from philosophers and psychiatric theorists on the issue of responsibility are schizophrenia, psychopathy, and alcoholism. There are of course many other mental illnesses where the issue of responsibility arises: obvious examples are depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, manic episodes, paraphilias, and borderline personality disorder. Despite the fact that the various theories of the aetiology and nature of these disorders are very suggestive of ways to understand the responsibility of those with the disorders for their symptomatic behaviour, these and other mental disorders have received surprisingly little discussion from philosophers vis--vis responsibility for action.
It would not be fair to blame psychiatry for the invention of compulsion. Psychiatry only gained the major responsibility for controlling madness in the 19th century, and society required ... Read More
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