Anti-psychiatrist, author of:Dr Szasz holds that we have substituted scientism for morality and allowed a category error to permeate our thinking about mental illnesses and other 'diseases' such as drug addiction, alcoholism, anorexia and obesity.

He sees their current 'pathological' status as the inevitable result of a society that is unprepared to accept the hard work involved in personal responsibility.

Szasz also wrote "Ceremonial Chemistry, The ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers."

In this book, the author tries to identify the actual occurrences that constitute our so-called drug problem.

He also thinks that "the conceptual realm and logical class into which these phenomena belongs are religion and politics", that "the ritual persecution of these pharmacological and human agents must be seen against the historical backdrop of the ritual persecution of other scapegoats, such as witches, Jews and madmen."

Finally, Szasz says that he wants to "identify the moral and legal implications of the view that using and avoiding drugs are not matters of health and disease but matters of god and evil; that, in other words, drug abuse is not a regretable medical disease but a repudiated religious observance."

This is one of my favorite authors, as his thoughts are provoking and make me wonder about what kind of world are we living in...

For similar approaches see the Michael Foucault node.

From the preface of "Ceremonial Chemistry, The ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers." 1985 © by Thomas Szasz, Learning Publications Inc.

The problem here is the underlying assumption that there is no such thing as morality. Not only is this unproven, but patently false. While I accept that anything outside of the mythos or logos of a society may be seen as insane, that in no way undermine's a society's value set as it seeks to better itself, and the individuals within it. Nowadays the emphasis is on stopping people who are going to harm themselves, or harm others by behaviour patterns and expressions that are inconsistent within the framework of their existence.

For example, when a priest starts to blaspheme and still claim that he or she loves God, there is obviously a contradiction. (We could talk a lot here about politicians, but we won't for the sake of brevity.) Or perhaps we should consider those people who start to eat their own faeces, or who repeatedly try to commit suicide, or self-mutilation, or who are homicidal, or have chemical imbalances in the brain. These people are insane. They harm themselves, and they harm others, if not directly, then by debasing the image of a dignified humanity that we all aspire to. Thomas Szasz's assertions to the contrary, while thought provoking, are based on a reactionary stance which, if followed through would dissemble the basis of society's responsibility to the individual.

Namely that not only do I have a duty to protect myself from you, but also to protect you from others, and also to protect you from yourself. All of these three scenarios limit freedom, but the freedom they restrict comes at the price of justice. People who are high on drugs cannot drive buses, or be trusted to be doctors, nor can they work. They still need to be fed and clothed, and they draw resources from the rest of us. While someone who is disabled has a right to all that we can do for them, I do not see how we can justify harming ourselves and society for personal pleasure.

But I digress, this node is about Madness, the definitions of madness that are bandied about like tennis balls, and all the trendy new liberal ideas that abolish 'society', personal conscience, and personal responsibility, not to mention all the right wing ideas that would have us locked away in our homes with guns and watching each other like hawks to see what everyone was upto. Madness isn't a theory, it is real. When a mind degrades past the point of rational thought, you are no longer looking at a human being, but an animal. Even animals must be treated kindly, and who knows, enough semblance of humanity might remain and gradually re-assert itself so that the personal will become whole again. But this is something that needs treatment, it needs care, and it also needs recognition. We can't just label it as "cool man, this guy's tripping...!" and absolve ourselves of the fact that he is beating his head off the ground until blood is gushing by the fact that we call it something other than insanity.

It is real.

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