Differences Within Critical Psychiatry


In this blog post for Critical Psychiatry, Duncan Double highlights three main areas of disagreement among critical psychiatrists: whether psychiatry should be seen as a medical discipline, whether detention and forced treatment should be abolished, and whether it is suitable to see mental disorder as illness and disease.

“In summary, the essential critical psychiatry position of challenging the claim that mental disorders have been established to be brain diseases can lead to some differing perspectives within critical psychiatry. As I have said several times, critical psychiatry is a ‘broad church’, but it does coalesce round the view that the biomedical hypothesis that functional mental illness is due to brain disease is based on faith, desire and wish fulfilment rather than logic.”

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  1. I’ve seen David Oakes profile and on it he says that he Recovered as a result of leaving the Psychiatric System – I can identify with this.

    David Oakes Recovery would have cost the country very little (- and this is what’s ndeeded).

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  2. Interesting post. Commenting on one of Bonnie Burstow’s antipsychiatry posts, I was accused by another commenter of being in league with critical psychiatry for not emphasizing the first point, psychiatry isn’t real medicine. The idea was that we should believe (& I’m no believer) in the ‘abolition’ of psychiatry. (Translation, zilch psychiatrists.) The idea here is that all sorts of atrocities are being perpetrated by psychiatry in the name of medicine. Certainly, true. In David Ingleby’s collection of essays, Critical Psychiatry (1980), the last point is emphasized. Critical psychiatry saying mental illness (disorder/distress/trauma, you name it) is real, anti-psychiatry saying it is not real. I tend to focus on the 2nd point. Abolish forced treatment, and the rest will take care of itself. Certainly, if there is any question about the medical validity of your profession, you yourself are not on the verge of abandoning it for another. I think the big business of mental health treatment, once a much much smaller business, is a big part of the problem, like who sets up a business in order for it to shrink. This need to grow in turn creates, voila, mental illness so-called in epidemic proportions! Yep, and now that it is seen as 20 % of the population is a joke in the poorest of tastes. This contagion isn’t illness, properly speaking, it’s a consumer product (er, or, service, to which some people might apply the prefix dis).

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  3. Regarding “Abolish forced treatment”
    Forced treatment = Jail or putting people in jail BEFORE they commit crime.
    As long as the insanity defense is valid in the legal system…
    “Involuntary mental hospitalization and the insanity defense should be seen for what they are: symmetrical symbols of psychiatric power. In the one case, the psychiatrist “accuses” the innocent; in the other, he “excuses” the guilty.” (Szasz, 1982)

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