Thomas Szasz’s TheMythofMentalIllness: Foundations of a Theory
of Personal Conduct, first published in 1961, is a classical radical work
that challenges orthodox psychiatry and the core assumptions behind the
belief that what we have come to understand as mental illness belongs to
the medical realm. My main motivation for rekindling an intellectual and
political engagement with Szasz’s original thesis is threefold. First, in the
current context of mental health policy and service reform
This book provides a series of rich reflections on the interaction between the radical ideas and political action in Ireland. It aims to provide insights into how selected mobilising classics have framed or have the potential to frame Irish social movement discourses and oppositional activity. The book provides an account of the contributor's personal encounters with the classic text, some by word of mouth from their parents, others through copies passed around in activists' groups, and others still through serendipitous reading. The classic text were published over a period that spans three centuries. Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, published in 1791, is the oldest text considered, whereas Our Common Future, published in 1987 by the UN-established World Commission on Environment and Development, is the most recent. In Hilary Tovey's commentary on Our Common Future, the work of a committee, she reveals tensions within the classic text and argues that its key concept 'sustainable development' is an inspirational but confused one. Orla McDonnell's essay on The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz considers his ideas about the huge social costs of the medicalisation of 'the problems of living'. In contrast, Orla O'Donovan's reflections on Ivan Illich's Tools for Conviviality, consider how his ideas can springboard our thinking beyond the prisons of visionlessness or circumscribed political imaginations. Eileen O'Carroll's essay on William Thompson's Practical Education for the South of Ireland traces early Irish articulations of socialist feminism.
ecological modernisationists and ‘alternative’ environmental activists.
Some of the selected mobilising classics are primarily concerned with
‘diagnostic framing’, the identification and attribution of blame for the injustices social movements seek to redress, whereas others are more oriented
towards ‘prognostic framing’, the articulation of possible strategies for
effecting change (Benford and Snow, 2000). For example, Orla McDonnell’s
Mobilising classics: reading radical writing in Ireland
essay on TheMythofMentalIllness by Thomas Szasz considers
bases of the social world. In so doing they help to speak truth to
power. Perhaps the definitive classic text in this sense is Freire’s Pedagogy
of the Oppressed, which offers a methodology and conceptual toolkit for
the development of a critical consciousness about the nature of the world
and the potential of human agency. In a substantive sense texts which pose
problems and challenge knowledge in a particular field include Szasz’s TheMythofMentalIllness and Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. These texts draw
attention to knowledge as myth in
This collection explores how concepts of intellectual or learning disability evolved from a range of influences, gradually developing from earlier and decidedly distinct concepts, including ‘idiocy’ and ‘folly’, which were themselves generated by very specific social and intellectual environments. With essays extending across legal, educational, literary, religious, philosophical, and psychiatric histories, this collection maintains a rigorous distinction between historical and contemporary concepts in demonstrating how intellectual disability and related notions were products of the prevailing social, cultural, and intellectual environments in which they took form, and themselves performed important functions within these environments. Focusing on British and European material from the middle ages to the late nineteenth century, this collection asks ‘How and why did these concepts form?’ ‘How did they connect with one another?’ and ‘What historical circumstances contributed to building these connections?’ While the emphasis is on conceptual history or a history of ideas, these essays also address the consequences of these defining forces for the people who found themselves enclosed by the shifting definitional field.
Analysing mental health discourses and practices in Ireland
Valverde, M. (2006) Governmentality. Annual Review of
Law and Social Science, 2: 83–104.
Seligman, M., Steen, T., Park, N. and Peterson, C. (2005) Positive psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5):
Shine (2016) About Us. Available from: www.shineonline.ie. Accessed 8 March
South Western Area Health Board and Irish College of General Practitioners (2004)
Mental Health in Primary Care. Kildare, Irish College of General Practitioners.
Szasz, T. (1961) TheMythofMentalIllness: Foundations of a Theory of
Heather Munsche and Harry A. Whittaker, ‘Eighteenth-Century Classification of
Mental Illness: Linnaeus, de Sauvages, Vogel, and Cullen’, Cognitive and Behavioral
Neurology 25 (2012); Edward Shorter, What Psychiatry Left out of DSM–V:
Historical Mental Disorders Today (New York: Routledge, 2015); Robert Castel,
The Regulation of Madness: The Origins of Incarceration in France (Cambridge:
Polity Press, 1988), 134.
53 Thomas Szasz, TheMythofMentalIllness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal
Conduct (New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961); The Manufacture of Madness: A
Key texts in the ‘anti-psychiatry’
vein are R. D. Laing, The Divided Self: An Existential Study of Sanity and
Madness (London: Tavistock, 1960 ); Thomas Szasz, TheMythofMentalIllness: Foundations of a Theory of
Personal Conduct (New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961 ); Michel
Foucault, Madness and
Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the Age of
Gay History of Britain, p. 191.
40 Cook, A Gay History of Britain, p. 191.
41 Ida Ashley, interviewed 17 July 2010.
42 Ackroyd, Dressing Up, 17.
43 Prebble, ‘Ordinary Men and Uncommon Women’, p. 193.
44 ‘Counter-psychiatry’ and ‘anti-psychiatry’ are used interchangeably.
45 Nick Crossley, ‘R. D. Laing and The British Anti-Psychiatry Movement: A
Socio-Historical Analysis’, Social Science Medical 47 (7) (1998), p. 878.
46 Crossley, ‘R. D. Laing’, p. 879.
47 Erving Goffman, Asylums (New York, 1961).
48 See, e.g., Thomas S. Szasz, TheMythof
Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s
Journal, Vol. 2, issue
6148 (11 November 1978) p. 1361.
47 Ian Kennedy, ‘What is a Medical Decision?’
48 Ian Kennedy, quoted in Reynolds and Tansey (eds), Medical Ethics
Education in Britain, p. 46.
49 Kennedy, ‘The Legal Effects of Requests by the Terminally Ill’, p. 219,
n 4. See also Thomas Szasz, TheMythofMentalIllness: Foundations
of a Theory of Personal Conduct (London: Paladin, 1972).
50 Kennedy, ‘What is a Medical Decision?’, p. 23. See also Illich, Medical
Nemesis, p. 154.
51 Ian Kennedy, ‘The Mental Health Act: A Model Response that Failed