Psychiatry and the control of dangerousness: on the apotropaic function of the term “mental illness”
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (4):227-230 (2003)
The term “mental illness” implies that persons with such illnesses are more likely to be dangerous to themselves and/or others than are persons without such illnesses. This is the source of the psychiatrist’s traditional social obligation to control “harm to self and/or others,” that is, suicide and crime. The ethical dilemmas of psychiatry cannot be resolved as long as the contradictory functions of healing persons and protecting society are united in a single discipline.Life is full of dangers. Our highly developed consciousness makes us, of all living forms in the universe, the most keenly aware of, and the most adept at protecting ourselves from, dangers. Magic and religion are mankind’s earliest warning systems. Science arrived on the scene only about 400 years ago, and scientific medicine only 200 years ago. Some time ago I suggested that “formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic”.1We flatter and deceive ourselves if we believe that we have outgrown the apotropaic use of language .Many people derive comfort from magical objects , and virtually everyone finds reassurance in magical words . The classic example of an apotropaic is the word “abracadabra,” which The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines as “a magical charm or incantation having the power to ward off disease or disaster”. In the ancient world, abracadabra was a magic word, the letters of which were arranged in an inverted pyramid and worn as an amulet around the neck to protect the wearer against disease or trouble. One fewer letter appeared in each line of the pyramid, until only the letter “a” remained to form the vertex of the triangle. As …
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
E. F. Cohen & C. P. Morley (2009). Children, ADHD, and Citizenship. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (2):155-180.
Neil John Pickering (2013). Doubting Thomas. Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (10):658-659.
Similar books and articles
T. Szasz (2003). Response To: Comments on Psychiatry and the Control of Dangerousness: On the Apotropaic Function of the Term "Mental Illness". Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (4):237-237.
Martin Roth (1986). The Reality of Mental Illness. Cambridge University Press.
Joel Paris (2008). Prescriptions for the Mind: A Critical View of Contemporary Psychiatry. Oxford University Press.
Matthew Ratcliffe (2010). Binary Oppositions in Psychiatry: For or Against? Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 17 (3):233-239.
Thomas Stephen Szasz (1974). The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. New York,Harper & Row.
Michael S. Moore (1975). Some Myths About 'Mental Illness'. Inquiry 18 (3):233 – 265.
D. B. Double (ed.) (2006). Critical Psychiatry: The Limits of Madness. Palgrave Macmillan.
Allan V. Horwitz (2002). Creating Mental Illness. University of Chicago Press.
G. M. Sayers (2003). Psychiatry and the Control of Dangerousness: A Comment. Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (4):235-236.
Christopher Megone (2000). Mental Illness, Human Function, and Values. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 7 (1):45-65.
Carl Elliott (2004). Mental Illness and its Limits. In The Philosophy of Psychiatry: A Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Robert L. Woolfolk (1999). Malfunction and Mental Illness. The Monist 82 (4):658-670.
David Papineau (1994). Mental Disorder, Illness and Biological Disfunction. Philosophy 37:73-82.
Added to index2010-08-24
Total downloads9 ( #173,767 of 1,410,220 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #95,293 of 1,410,220 )
How can I increase my downloads?