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Orla McDonnell

6 Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness Orla McDonnell Introduction Thomas Szasz’s The Myth of Mental Illness: 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

in Mobilising classics
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Reading radical writing in Ireland

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.

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Orla O’Donovan and Fiona Dukelow

­ ppropriation by 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 6 Mobilising classics: reading radical writing in Ireland essay on The Myth of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz considers

in Mobilising classics
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Fiona Dukelow and Orla O’Donovan

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 The Myth of Mental Illness and Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. These texts draw Concluding remarks 195 attention to knowledge as myth in

in Mobilising classics
A conceptual history 1200–1900

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
Derek Chambers

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): 410–421. Shine (2016) About Us. Available from: Accessed 8 March 2016. 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) The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of

in Reframing health and health policy in Ireland
Murray K. Simpson

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, The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct (New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961); The Manufacture of Madness: A

in Intellectual disability
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Will Jackson

. 57 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, The Myth of Mental Illness: 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

in Madness and marginality
Tommy Dickinson

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, The Myth of

in ‘Curing queers’
Ian Kennedy, oversight and accountability in the 1980s
Duncan Wilson

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, The Myth of Mental Illness: 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

in The making of British bioethics