Binary Oppositions in Psychiatry: For or Against?

In their interesting and informative paper ‘From Szasz to Foucault: On the Role of Critical Psychiatry,’ Pat Bracken and Phil Thomas contrast, in a clear and helpful way, some central themes in the works of Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. They go on to endorse a form of critical psychiatry inspired by the latter. Szasz’s critique of psychiatry, they explain, is premised on binary oppositions, principally that between ‘mental’ and ‘bodily.’ Szasz begins by assuming the legitimacy of the distinction and proceeds to argue that the term ‘illness’ can only be legitimately applied to what is ‘bodily.’ According to Szasz, there are medical pathologies, which are to be understood in naturalistic, biological terms, and ..
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Thomas Szasz (1982). On the Legitimacy of Psychiatric Power. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 3 (3):315-324.
Valeria Lelli (2011). The Body Language: A Semiotic Reading of Szasz’ Anti-Psychiatry. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 4 (2):34-36.

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