A changing faith? : a history of developments in radical critiques of psychiatry since the 1960's
The thesis examines the emergence of anti-psychiatry since the early 1960s, addressing two questions: 1. Why did anti-psychiatry emerge at this time? 2. How influential is anti-psychiatry today? Anti -psychiatry was found not to consist of one identifiable set of' proposals, but a shifting package of views. One factor remains consistent across versions of anti-psychiatry: criticism of medicalisation of mental disorder. Anti-psychiatry emerged during the 1960s for two reasons: a) Psychiatrists had adopted positivistic conceptualisations of human disorder, which reduced psychiatric patients to 'malfunctioning machines'. Anti-psychiatry restored the patient's subjectivity to the centre of psychiatric practice, b) The mid-twentieth century saw the expansion of state planning and a reduced emphasis upon individual liberty. Anti-psychiatry was part of the counter- culture, which criticised the welfare' state as a machine for producing 'normality'/conformity. 1960s Anti -psychiatry was more libertarian than Marxist. By the 1970s, anti-psychiatry divided into two distinct forms: radical psychotherapy and Marxist anti-therapy. Versions of Marxist anti-therapy fail to propose alternatives to therapy which are not themselves therapeutic or paratherapeutic. This problem derives from excessive reliance upon Szasz's libertarian critique which is flawed. Anti-psychiatry is less influential today; having suffered from academic criticism and failed to offer solutions to the problems posed by 'community care’. It competes with critiques which are pro-democracy, rather than anti- medicine. Italian reforms provide one possible model. MIND's mental health campaigns are democratically rather than anti -psychiatrically based. The user movement includes both anti -psychiatry c users and democratically-minded ones". Democratisation of mental health provision is complicated by the continuing need for expert professionals and some compulsory treatment, and by problems inherent within the user movement. However, democracy rather than anti-psychiatry now offers the best basis for political critiques of psychiatry.