The Myth of Mental Illness, revisited

Professor Keirsey's Blog

Excerpted from Dark Escape

The Myth of “Mental Illness”

Many medics and psychologists still claim that there are “mental illnesses” as well as physical illnesses. In the early 1960s Thomas Szasz unmasked the belief as the myth, and was promptly ostracized for his revelation, the doctrine surviving all attacks since that time. Hidden in the doctrine is the assumption that something is wrong with the brain of any person who is labeled “mentally ill.” If the brain defect is the culprit then all parties involved are relieved of responsibility—the identified patients, their parents, and the labeling authorities. If, on the other hand, there are no “mental illnesses,” as Szasz averred, then none of the parties escapes responsibility. Neither the identified patients, nor their parents, nor their labelers wish to be held responsible, so the doctrine of “mental illness” survives. All parties, including the identified patients, assume that the underlying brain…

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