Derrick D. Wheatley
Grand Canyon University: Contemporary & Ethical Issues in Psychology
Mental Illness: A Euphemism for Behaviors Disapproved by Society
Thomas Szasz' criticism of psychiatrist was quite fascinating; even more so, because he was a psychiatrist himself. Szasz was particularly vocal in his criticism of the existence of mental illness; he referred to the specialty as a pseudoscience. This controversy resonated because of the recent shootings in schools, movie theaters, and political rallies, to name a few a few. Often times, when the case of the culprit is followed the plea is not guilty by reason of insanity. I cannot understand how a person is sane enough to gather the guns or weapons and keep it a secret to commit the crime, but insane when in the commission of the crime. This gives the detractors of psychology tools to question its legitimacy today.
Background of Mental Illness
The existence of mental illness has been an ongoing debate since it conception in the 1800's. The chances of an individual becoming a lunatic vastly increased if a child slept under the moonlight or was born during a full moon. As a result of an individual being labeled as a lunatic; as they were called, the person would be removed from society and removed from society. The individual was often viewed as being possessed. During this time, the treatment of mental illness was limited to giving the affected ice baths until they passed out or high voltage to the brain. To rid the body of the illness only two techniques existed; vomiting the illness up or bleeding. The bleeding involved removing the "bad" blood from the body; which often led to the death of the patient. There have been at least four revolutions of mental illness; the moral treatment of patients, electro convulsive therapy, psychotropic medications, and the fourth being the combination of mental illnesses with chronic physical illnesses (Gautam, 2010).
Moral Treatment of Patients
The moral treatment of patients was the first revolution of the treatment of mental illness, which occurred in 1793. According to Luchins, this revolution placed a requirement on those who came in contact with patients suffering from mental illness be treated with kindness and respect (1989). The individuals had already been removed from their homes and familiar surroundings. Furthermore, there was a recommendation to establish and maintain regular habits for the patients. The routine was to assist the patient with self-control and prevent their minds from developing any morbid thoughts. Prior to this revolution, mental illness was considered as incurable. The moral treatment of the patient assisted changing the thinking of the time to the curability of the illness.