Re: Controversy over mental health.
What did you do with my reply to
Schaler (copy below)? I really enjoy
(perhaps "appreciate" would be a
better word!) the TT interchanges.
Your Sept 6 reply to Anon from Canada
Barrie R. Cassileth, Ph.D.
PO Box 222, Twenty Holsberry Road
Truro, MA 02666 USA
Phone: (508) 349-9623; Fax: (508) 349-7231
On Sun, 23 Aug 1998 13:00:04 -0400 barriec writes:
>Schaler is not suggesting a new concept.
>Has he not heard of Thomas Szasz, the
>(largely discredited) proponent of "The
>Myth of Mental Illness," an early book,
>the "Manufacture of Madness," or any
>other of his numerous publications?
>How illness is defined is a social issue.
>Talcott Parsons, the great medical
>sociologist, and his student Prof Renee
>Fox (U of P) and others of distinction
>have written extensively about this subject.
>The concept of "medicalization" and
>"demedicalization" was conceived to describe
>just this issue. An example: homosexuality
>was "demedicalized" when it was removed
>from the list of psychiatric disorders several
>years ago. Much criminal behavior has been
>"medicalized," or explained in terms of one
>disorder or another.
>Mental illness has a long social history.
>Madness was defined first as a gifted state,
>the blessing of gods. Then as internalized
>demons (Salem witch trials; lunacy wards
>with barred windows where inmates/
>patients were on public display, including
>200 years ago in Schaler's home town, in
>the basement of Pennsylvania Hospital.
>Then science discovered genetic errors
>that accounted for some mental illnesses;
>inadequate serotonin levels that explained
>others; brain scans that displayed specific
>differences in people who exhibited normal
>vs abnormal behavior. The twin studies
>(identical twins reared apart) provided further
>evidence that mental illness stems not from
>gods, witchcraft, or an unhappy childhood,
>but from identifiable, quantifiable, neuro-
>physiologic disorders. Mental illness was
>How society deals with it is another matter,
>because all illness is handled in the context
>of time and place.
>These are basic concepts of psychology and
>medical sociology. Is there someone out there
>teaching psychology who is unaware of them?
>Barrie R. Cassileth, Ph.D.
>PO Box 222, Twenty Holsberry Road
>Truro, MA 02666 USA
>Phone: (508) 349-9623; Fax: (508) 349-7231
>On Sat, 22 Aug 1998 22:22:41 -0400 Eric Krieg <eric@...>
>>From: Eric Krieg <eric@...>
>> There have been many debates in the "soft science" of psychiatry
>>constitutes a disease. A rising faction of dissidents have done a
>>good job of
>>challenging the existence of some tenuous newer claimed illnesses.
>>the debate focus's on "the mind" - if it is an esoteric abstraction,
>>can it be diseased. My problem with these "skeptics" is when they
>>is no such thing as mental illness. David Herman is a ardardent
>>this new thinking. The following is a short piece of long exchanges
>>======= my response to David:
>> I certainly agree that many things termed "disease" are really just
>>personality deficiency or as you say, "different behavior". I'm sick
>>liberals finding new labels to make sure no one is responsible for
>>actions. I hope skeptics and atheists aren't called mentally ill
>>see things very different than most people. I can't say exactly what
>>constitutes a disease, but I know there are diseases like Tourettes
>>where the actual cause and mechanism are not understood and there is
>>definitive test (like white blood cell count) to establish it - but
>>clearly diagnosed on the basis of behavior. I think a neurotic
>>not have an illness, but person sitting in a catatonic state in their
>>excrement occasionally blathering to a nonexistent person is ill. I
>>there is lot's of room for skepticism in the area of psychology and
>>psychiatry, but I feel that Schaler loses much credibility to defend
>>extreme position as to say there is no such thing as mental illness.
>> I'm bcc-ing this to a few PhACT members who may question whether
>>provide a forum for Schaler.
>>David Herman wrote:
>>> Subject: Mental Health Parity in Philadelphia Inquirer
>>> Date: Sat, 22 Aug 98 07:41:31 EDT
>>> From: "Dr. Jeffrey A. Schaler" <JSCHALE@...>
>>> Organization: The American University
>>> To: daherman@...
>>> The following letter to the editor appeared in today's Phildelphia
>>> August 22, 1988
>>> Mental-health parity
>>> Loretta H. Ferry, president of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill
>>> Pennsylvania, confuses brain and mind (Letters, Aug. 15).
>>> If "mental illness" is really a brain disease, it would be
>>> such in standard textbooks on pathology. It is not listed as a
>>> disease because it does not meet the nosological criteria for
>>> classification. On that basis alone, Gov. Ridge should veto the
>>> bill in Pennsylvania. Discrimination against the "mentally ill"
>>> nothing to do with it. Mental illness is a metaphorical disease,
>>> literal one. It can no more be "treated" than can a "sick"
>>> Moreover, parity creates a legal slippery slope. Since there are
>>> objective tests for "mental illness," all kinds of socially
>>> unacceptable behaviors will be declared "mental illnesses." This
>>> families a guilt-free opportunity to get rid of disturbing
>>> in the name of compassion. It gives mental-health professionals
>>> money-making opportunity to peddle their wares in the name of
>>> "treatment." And it gives social parasites and predators an
>>> opportunity to avoid responsibility for their behaviors.
>>> Legislators and the general public should not be hoodwinked. If
>>> illness is identical to physical illness, wouldn't it make sense
>>> say cancer and diabetes are the same as schizophrenia and drug
>>> The bottom line is this: Behaviors cannot be diseases. Mental
>>> is a contradiction in terms. Mental illness is a myth.
>>> Jeffrey A. Schaler
>>> Adjunct Professor of Psychology
>>> Chestnut Hill College
>>> [Letters to the Editor
>>> The Inquirer
>>> Box 8263
>>> Philadelphia, PA 19101
>>> Fax: 215-854-4483
>>> Inquirer. Letters@...]
>> best wishes,
>> Eric Krieg eric@... fax (215)-654-0651
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