The Social Model of Mental Illness Essay

1337 Words 6 Pages
The Social Model of Mental Illness

The social model of mental illness emphasizes the social environment and the roles people play. Thomas Scheff maintains that people diagnosed as mentally ill are victims of the status quo, guilty of often unnamed violations of social norms; thus the label "mental illness" can be used as an instrument of social control. I agree with Scheff's analysis, and I strongly concur with the view Thomas Szasz takes on the notion of mental illness. Szasz argues that much of what we call "mental illness" is a myth; it is not an illness, but simply "problems in living", troubles caused by conflicting personal needs, opinions, social aspirations, values, and so forth (Szasz 13). It thus follows that the widely
…show more content…
In his view, today, particularly in the affluent West, all of the difficulties and problems in living are considered psychiatric diseases, and everyone (but the diagnosticians) is considered mentally ill (Szasz 4). However, there is very little evidence supporting the popular view that for the most part "mental illnesses" are mental diseases; that is, of a legitimate biological, physiological, neurological or chromosomal nature. Instead, as Szasz writes, "what people now call mental illnesses are, for the most part, communications expressing unacceptable ideas, often framed in an unusual idiom (Szasz 19)."
Open Document