The Relationship with Psychiatry and Psychiatric Knowledge
Critics working in the tradition of ‘anti-psychiatry’ (most famously Szasz 1970 in the United States, Laing 1959 in Britain) would suggest that the fact that relatives applied an illness model is a result of the dominance of psychiatric thought, which is itself a symptom of the medicalization of Western society (Illich 1977). Simply put, aspects of human experience connected perhaps to unhappiness, deviance or protest are neutralized and marginalized by being understood within medical and psychiatric frameworks. However, other work in medical sociology has suggested that professionals are not acting alone in the process of diagnosis but that ‘others, including the patients themselves, are full participants in the process of labelling, diagnosis, management and treatment of illness’ (Mishler 1981: 166). This latter view is consistent with the argument being made here that the relatives themselves are important actors in defining mental illness.
KeywordsMental Illness Mental Health Professional Illness Model Formal Diagnosis Split Personality
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