The Same Old Song

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(10), 753–755. Reviews the book, The Theology of Medicine: The Political-Philosophical Foundations of Medical Ethics by Thomas Szasz (1977). In 1961, Szasz startled the psychological and psychiatric world with The Myth of Mental Illness, in which contended that psychiatric intervention with involuntary patients was fundamentally immoral. He charged then, as he does again in The Theology of Medicine, that mental hospital patients are innocents incarcerated in psychiatric prisons, that institutional psychiatry is an extralegal system of punishments and penology, and that mental illness is a metaphor-a quasi-medical label used to conceal conflicts of values and to justify coercion of the patients. In Szasz's view, the only moral option in a free society is the complete abolition of involuntary psychiatric intervention, and reliance instead on the legal system. Szasz's provocative writings have forced many professionals to re-examine their fundamental assumptions about the nature of mental health and mental illness, and their justifications for the treatments they provide. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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