Insanity: The Idea and Its Consequences

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From one of the most renowned and controversial thinkers in behavioral science, here is a critical examination of the way both science and society define insanity. Attacking the universally accepted psychiatric doctrines that blur the distinction between literal and metaphoric diseases, Szasz argues that insanity is not an objectively definable or identifiable condition and presents a more fully-rounded account of the insanity concept, showing how it relates to and differs from three closely allied ideas--social deviance, bodily illness and the sick role. Reveals why it is truly impossible to understand psychiatric problems without first distinguishing an abnormal biological condition--like diabetes--from the sick role. Destined to become a classic, this is an important addition to the author's already impressive body of work.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Szasz is the well-known anti-psychiatric psychiatrist who first attacked the ``myth of mental illness'' 25 years ago. Several books since, including the present one, seem redundantly to echo his attack. Always a clear and accessible writer, the author has some trenchant criticisms of psychobiology, of a society perhaps too ready to excuse criminality as psychopathology, of a field filled with jargon (is ``self-actualization'' anything more than ``living life to its fullest''?). Unfortunately, such refreshing insights are buried in the overall excess of a polemic dismissing virtually all inner mental life and conflict in favor of a vague, apparently concretistic viewpoint. The book is certainly acessible to the lay public but not much of an addition to the author's previous work. Paul Hymowitz, Psychiatry Dept., Cornell Medical Ctr., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815604600
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 436
  • Sales rank: 1,408,321
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Original Edition
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Illness 7
1 Defining Illness 9
2 Being a Patient 27
Pt. 2 Insanity 45
3 Defining Mental Illness 47
4 Being a Mental Patient 99
Pt. 3 The Conceptual Dimensions of Mental Illness 133
5 Mental Illness as Metaphor 135
6 Mental Illness and the Problem of Imitation 170
7 Mental Illness and the Problem of Intentionality 216
8 Mental Illness and the Problem of Responsibility 237
Pt. 4 The Practical Uses of Mental Illness 279
9 Mental Illness as Strategy 281
10 Mental Illness as Justification 297
11 Mental Illness as Legal Fiction 319
12 Mental Illness as Explanation 342
References 367
Bibliography 391
Name Index 399
Subject Index 405
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