Dimensions of Moral Agency

Dimensions of Moral Agency BookSarah Vincent authored the chapter entitled, “The Myth of the Mental (Illness).”


Thomas Szasz has wrestled with the following question: Does mental illness even exist? Here, I sketch two provocative papers by Szasz and detail his reasons for criticizing the concept ‘mental illness.’ I will proceed to highlight where I think Szasz’s writing is philosophically dubious, despite its role in forcing us to think critically about ‘mental illness.’ I will conclude that his argument is best left behind as an antiquated take on neurodivergence. Finally, I will propose what I think is a more promising alternative to Szasz’s view that there is a myth around mental illness. There is a myth indeed, and it involves what is often meant by ‘mental.’ With new developments in embodied cognition, I will ask us to revisit the concept of ‘mental illness,’ to correctly diagnose the problematic myth that must be confronted by the psychiatric community, and to explore what the myth of the mental means for neurodivergence.


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