Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Comments by Paul Counter

Showing 5 of 5 comments.

  • This article does not really say anything, certainly nothing that Thomas Szasz did not articulate years ago or go beyond the doubt any half intelligent person experiences when offered copious drugs for problems in their life.

    For anyone to be taken seriously and propose a real paradigm shift (a model which approximates reality better than the current one), they must provide an articulated description of that model that can be tested, discussed and scrutinised, not just “see the dots connecting, often coming from the most unexpected places and spheres.”-what does that even mean?

  • I’m glad your “nope” is the final word on it, and everyone can just stop any kind of work to elucidate mental processes (that we collectively call the mind), how they come about, and how they interact with the brain, and what to do when people suffer with them.

    Indeed, you have sorted everything with such a powerful nope. Except you haven’t sorted anything.

    Why do you assume I would be quoting Szasz? This is the problem here really; peoples’ inability to criticise Szasz or even allow the idea of criticising him to be entertained. Every so often someone will become enthralled by his writings, decide to write about them and we all remind ourselves that mental illness is an incorrect term (which critic of psychiatry does not know this by now?). There are other critics of psychiatry to read, including those who criticise Szasz, and, as much of a shock as this may be, can advance Szasz’s ideas intellectually.

    Simply Google advance to update your understanding of the word and then you will have a better grasp of what that paragraph in my previous comment means-here is one definition- “a development or improvement.”

    As I have stated in my previous comments, these are the theories (as I understand them) of Dr Niall McLaren, which, if you read his work, could perhaps offer more constructive criticism. Indeed, your last paragraph is virtually 100% in line with his biocognitive model (the brain is the physical framework). If this is your own theory, then where have you articulated it? If it is someone else’s theory, whose is it? I am not trying to advance any of my own theories but have read and listened to others to try get an informed and balanced view.

  • I get Szasz to the point of publishing work defending him and nowhere have I stated he did not acknowledge the existence of stress. Nor have I ever advocated medical “cures” for any sort of mental distress, so if you are trying to tar me with that brush, please provide some evidence. Although I do, and this is entirely in line with Szasz but a position rarely occupied by today’s so called liberals or people who claim they identify with Szasz, believe in a free market for drugs which, if a person feels the taking of alleviates their mental distress, so be it.

    You are getting your terms mixed up- there is no such thing as mental illness, with the obvious Szaszian/medical caveat that disease can cause mental dysfunction, which puts it in the realm of neurology, which is basically the crux of his argument.
    However mental disorder (not illness) is entirely possible and entirely rational when the processes involved are defined correctly.

    Absolutely the mind is not a physical thing. But then what are you referring to when you use the term “it”? This is the question which Szasz could not answer because he did not articulate a theory of mind (and as I mentioned, he could not once he declared his position). I also claim you cannot answer it without reverting to behaviourism or some form of materialism (against Szasz’s views), unless you have an articulated theory of how the brain (a physical thing) results in mental events (non-physical but still very much real), and then crucially, how they interact.

    The fact is there are things called mental events which we reify today as the mind (true the word mind may change but mental events will always be there) which can cause dysfunction.

    I have read and watched countless “experts” in their field talk about what the mind is without ever articulating a theory of how the brain leads to mental events, and the only person who has a deeply articulated theory on this matter is Dr Niall McLaren whose work, if you are familiar with, is quintessential to my comments here and position.

    Indeed, I would recommend you read his work on the advancement of psychiatry and offer some criticisms. But also note how he articulates the dualistic nature of the universe in agreement with what you virtually describe in your first paragraph. Within this framework (his Biocognitive model), he accounts for the process of mental disorder (again, not illness) which acknowledges the biological necessity of the brain, but whose roots are based primarily in the psychological (mental) realm. By way of analogy, your computer can become corrupted by software whilst the hardware remains relatively intact.

    Advancement of psychiatry is necessary because it would simply be reinvented if it did not exist.

  • The problem with Thomas Szasz and continually advocating his views is that he was right but he wasn’t correct.

    He was right to say that the disease model is incorrect, but he did not offer an alternative (problems in living is nice, but what does it mean? What causes a person to have problems that they need the services of an assumed expert to solve those problems? Does this assumed expert (Szasz) have the knowledge/expertise to do this? If so, what his expertise based on?).

    As Dr Niall McLaren has shown in his works, Szasz would and could not acknowledge mental disorder (not illness) is real as he did not have a model to account for it. Rather, he painted himself into a corner which, whilst successful for his clients, could not be applied or articulated as a general model of mental distress and how to overcome it. His selection process was, well, selective in that he would speak to clients on the phone before he decided which ones he could help. McLaren further critiques Szasz in his works concluding that Szasz just did not get human distress and and often assumed people with mental disorders were lying.

    Thus, as mentioned, Szasz was right and I have defended his ideas and will still do so, but he is not immune to criticism (no one is). Indeed, it is worth asking why have Szasz’s ideas not penetrated psychiatry and become a successful theory to replace the medical one he rightfully criticised. The simplest answer is that he did not have a theory about mental disorder.

    I contend that, if, in years to come, people are still holding Szasz and his works as the most pertinent criticisms of psychiatry, then the field has not and cannot advance and this will be a sad state of affairs. It is important to learn from Szasz and acknowledge his contribution to the destruction of a myth, but also crucial to learn from his mistakes.