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USA Today, New York
Volume 128, Issue 2656, Start Page 30, ISSN: 01617389
Jan 2000
Copyright Society for Advancement of Education Jan 2000

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD: Dr. Szasz’ most
important article appeared in USA Today soon after a high-profile
statement by Surgeon General, David Satcher in which Satcher, for the
federal government, parroted psychiatry’s unfounded claim that
psychiatric disorders are bona fide diseases, as sure as medical and
surgical diseases are. At the time I wrote to Dr. Satcher urging that
he resign]

Psychiatrists and their allies have succeeded in persuading the scientific
community, courts, media, and general public that mental illnesses are
phenomena independent of human motivation or will.

THE CORE CONCEPT of mental illness-to which the vast majority of

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
Perhaps as a function of how unscientific they
always were, and of how wholly unscientific they become once they leave
medical school and enter the pseudoscientific world of psychiatric
training and practice. (See ‘scientific illiteracy of the general

and the public adhere-- is that diseases of the mind are diseases of the 
brain. The equation of the mind with the brain and of mental disease with
brain disease, supported by the authority of a large body of neuroscience
literature, …

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
All physicians—psychiatrists included, and journal
editors and reviewers, in particular, are responsible for knowing what
is a disease and what is not. Those allowing the representation of
psychiatric disorders as diseases, are guilty of the willful, knowing,
pervertion of science and medicine (see Ross, Pam, Carey)]

… is used to
render rational the drug treatment of mental illness
and justify the demand for parity in insurance coverage for medical and
mental disorders.

Reflecting the influence of these ideas, on Sept. 26, 1997, Pres. Clinton
signed the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, which took effect on Jan.
4, 1998. "This landmark law," according to the National Alliance for the 
Mentally Ill, "begins the process of ending the long-held practice of providing
less insurance coverage for mental illnesses, or brain disorders, than
is provided for equally serious physical disorders." Contrary to these
views, I maintain that the mind is not the brain, that mental functions
are not reducible to brain functions, and that mental diseases are not
brain diseases-indeed, that mental diseases are not diseases at all.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
This means that the representation of psychiatric disorders to be
‘diseases’ is in violation of (1) the California Drug Code (1998)
insofar as it applies to the prescribing of Schedule II stimulants,
Ritalin and amphetamines included, and (2) California Senate Bill
836—Figueroa. The California Drug Code specifies that The prescriber’s
record contain a description of the "pathology." In that ADHD is not
a disease, it has no pathology. The only bona fide disease for which
such drugs can be prescribed is narcolepsy. SB 836—Figueroa states:
"Under existing law, it is unlawful for any person licensed in the
healing arts to disseminate or cause to be disseminated any form of
public communication…containing a false, fraudulent,
misleading, or deceptive statement or claim, for the purpose of
inducing the rendering of professional services or furnishing of
products in connection with the licensed person's professional
practice or business… Existing law provides that a
violation of these provisions is a misdemeanor. This bill (SB 836)
would extend the applicability of this prohibition to a false,
fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive image … Section 651 of the
Business and Professions Code is amended to read: (a) It is unlawful
for any person licensed under this division or under any initiative act
referred to in this division to disseminate or cause to be disseminated,
any form of public
communication containing a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive
statement, claim, or image for the purpose of or likely to induce,
directly or indirectly, the rendering of professional services or
furnishing of products in connection with the
professional practice or business for which he or she is licensed. A
"public communication" as used in this section includes, but is not
limited to, communication by means of mail, television, radio, motion
picture, newspaper, book, list or directory of healing arts
practitioners, Internet or other electronic communication.
(b) A false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement,
claim, or image includes a statement or claim which does any of the
following: (1) Contains a misrepresentation of fact. (2) Is likely to
mislead or deceive because of a failure to disclose material facts. (3)
(A) Is intended or is likely to create false or unjustified expectations
of favorable results…]

When I assert the latter, I do not imply that distressing personal experiences
and deviant behaviors do not exist. Anxiety, depression, and conflict do 
exist-in fact, are intrinsic to the human condition-but they are not diseases
in the pathological sense.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, disease is "a condition of
the body, or of some part or organ of the body, in which its functions
are disturbed or deranged; a morbid physical condition." Diagnosis, in
turn, is "the determination of the nature of a diseased condition ...also,
the opinion (formally stated) resulting from such investigation."

The core medical concept of disease is a bodily abnormality, Literally,
the term "disease" denotes a demonstrable lesion of cells, tissues, or
organs. Metaphorically, it may be used to denote any kind of malfunctioning
of individuals, groups, economies. etc. (substance abuse, violence, unemployment,
et al).

The psychiatric concept of disease rests on a radical alteration of the
medical definition. The mind is not a material object; hence, it can be
diseased only in a metaphorical sense. In his classic, Lectures on  Clinical
Psychiatry, Emit Kraepelin-the founder of modern psychiatry-wrote: "The
subject of the following course of lectures will be the Science of Psychiatry,
which, as its name implies, is that of the treatment of mental disease.
It is true that, in the strictest terms, we cannot speak of the mind as
becoming diseased."

If we accept the idea that the diagnoses of mental illnesses refer to real
diseases, we are compelled to accept them as diagnoses on a par with those
of bodily diseases, albeit the criterion for what counts as a mental disease
is completely different from what counts as a bodily disease. For instance.
in Psychiatric Diagnosis, Donald Goodwin and Samuel B. Guze, two of the
most respected psychiatrists in the U.S., state: "When the term 'disease'
is used, this is what is meant: A disease is a cluster of symptoms and/or
signs with a more or less predictable course. Symptoms are what patients 
tell you; signs are what you see. The cluster may be associated with physical
abnormality or may not. The essential point is that it results in consultation
with a physician." According to these authorities, disease is not an observable
phenomenon, but a social relationship.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
Here we have the knowing perversion of the meaning of the word
‘disease’ by two leaders of modern-day, pharmaceutical
industry-dominated ‘biological’ psychiatry. Surely they wish they could
invent diseases. Unable to do so, they re-invent the meaning of the
term disease, instead. Drs. Goodwin and Guze are psychiatrists,
meaning they went to medical school, studied diseases—pathology, and
learned how to distinguish, in humans, the state of having a disease
(physical abnormality) from that of being disease-free. A third to a
half of all patients who see general physician are found to have no
objective abnormality, i.e., no disease. These include patients with
emotional, psychological, psychiatric symptoms or disorders. In some
affluent, desirable US cities there are 700 physicians per 100,000
citizens, while in poor, undesirable areas as few as 70 or 80 per
100,000. For Goodwin and Guze to suggest that it is who has an
encounter with a physician determines who has a disease, is purely
disingenuous. They have learned enough medicine and science to
fabricate deceive the public in the name of health care.]

In contrast to Goodwin and Guze's assertion that mental illness need not 
be associated with physical abnormality, Allen Frances, the chief architect
of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,
DSM-IV, states: "The special features of DSM-IV are ... elimination of
the term 'organic mental disorder' because it incorrectly implied that
other psychiatric disorders did not have a biological contribution."

Linguistic considerations help to illuminate the differences between bodily
and mental disease, as well as between disease and diagnosis. We do not
attribute motives to a person for having leukemia, do not say that a person
has reasons for having glaucoma, and would be uttering nonsense if we asserted
that diabetes has caused a person to shoot the President. However, we can
and do say all of these things about a person with a mental illness. One 
of the most important philosophical-political features of the concept of 
mental illness is that, at one fell swoop, it removes motivation from action,
adds it to illness, and thus destroys the very possibility of separating 
disease from non-disease and disease from diagnosis.

Diseases are physico-chemical phenomena or processes-for example, the abnormal
metabolism of glucose (diabetes). Mental diseases are patterns of personal
conduct, unwanted by the self or others. Psychopathology is diagnosed by 
finding behavioral, not physical, abnormalities in bodies. Disease qua
psychopathology cannot be asymptomatic. Changing the official classification
of mental diseases can transform non-disease into psychopathology and psychopathology
into nondisease (i.e., smoking from a behavioral habit into "nicotine dependence").
In short, medical diseases are discovered and then given a name, such as 
acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Mental diseases are invented 
and then given a name, such as attention deficit disorder.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
Clearly mental disorders are not disease. Claims and inferences
that they are from within the medical and mental health industry that
have the intended result of increasing business and income are clearly
in violation of California, SB 836-Figueroa]

Nowadays, names routinely are given not only to somatic pathology (real
or bodily diseases), but to behavioral pathology (psychopathology or mental
diseases). Indeed, if we propose to treat misbehavior as a disease instead
of a matter of law or social policy, we name it accordingly (for instance,
"substance abuse"). Not surprisingly, we diagnose mental illnesses by finding
abnormalities (unwanted behaviors) in persons, not abnormalities (lesions)
in bodies. That is why forensic psychiatrists "interview" criminals called
"patients" (who often do not regard themselves as patients), whereas forensic
pathologists examine body fluids. In the case of bodily illness, the clinical
diagnosis is a hypothesis, typically confirmed or disconfirmed through
an autopsy. It is not possible to die of a mental illness or to find evidence
of it in organs, tissues, cells, or body fluids during an autopsy.

To summarize, anthrax is a disease that is biologically constructed and
can, and does, kill its host. Attention deficit disorder, on the other
hand, is socially constructed and cannot kill the patient.

If we fail or refuse to distinguish between literal and metaphorical diseases,
we confuse and deceive ourselves and others not only about the differences
between treatments influencing the body and those influencing the person,
but about the differences between medical treatments (such as performing 
an appendectomy for acute appendicitis) and medical interventions (performing
an abortion terminating a healthy, but unwanted pregnancy). To be sure,
there is something to be gained by not distinguishing between diseases
and diagnoses, complaints and lesions, and/or treatments and interventions.
It permits creation of a therapeutic utopia--a medical fairyland with "miracle
cures" not only for diseases, but for non-diseases as well.

Mental diseases are behaviors

No one believes that love sickness is a disease, but nearly everyone believes
that mental sickness is, and virtually no one realizes that, if this were
true, it would prove the nonexistence of mental illness. If mental illnesses
are brain diseases (like Parkinsonism), then they are diseases of the body.
not the mind. A screwdriver may be a drink or a tool, but it would be foolish
to do research in the hope of discovering that some cases of orange juice
and vodka are hitherto unrecognized instances of carpenters' implements.

The contemporary American mind-set is so thoroughly psychiatrized that
it is quite useless to demonstrate the logical-linguistic misconceptions 
inherent in the claim that "mental illness is like any other illness.
Unless people are prepared to defy the combined forces of the state, science.
medicine. law, and popular opinion, they must believe--or at least pretend
to believe--that mental illnesses are brain diseases, scientists have identified
the somatic lesions that cause such illnesses, and psychiatrists possess 
effective treatments for them. Conventional wisdom as well as political
correctness preclude entertaining the possibility that mental illness,
like spring fever, is a metaphor.

In short, psychiatrists and their allies have succeeded in persuading the
scientific community, courts, media, and general public that the conditions
they call mental disorders are diseases--that is, phenomena independent
of human motivation or will. Because there is no empirical evidence to
back this claim (indeed, there can be none), the psychiatric profession
relies on supporting it with periodically revised versions of its pseudo-scientific
bible, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
All of this is a knowing, willful
fraud, in violation of SB 836 and any similar state or federal statute.
Clearly All psychiatrists, chose to go to medical school and to be
responsible for learning the difference between disease and
non-disease. They cannot disavow that training now. Had they wished
some ‘deniability’ on the subject they might have just become
psychologists. They do not go to medical school. They can still claim
not to know the difference between objective and subjective; symptoms
and signs, between having a real disease and being normal—disease-free.]

The official view is that these manuals list the various "mental disorders"
that afflict "patients." My view is that they are rosters of officially
accredited psychiatric diagnoses, constructed by task forces appointed
by officers of the American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatrists thus
have constructed diagnoses, pretended that the terms they coined were morally
neutral descriptions of brain diseases, and few in political power have
challenged their pretensions.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
All involved are MD-psychiatrists, all know that in calling mental,
emotional, psychological symptoms ‘diseases’ they engage in a knowing
deception of the American people and in an orchestrated violation of
their informed consent rights.]

My argument may be put another way: The existence of John Smith's bodily 
disease--say, astrocytoma, a nerve tissue tumor--is discovered and empirically
verified. Radiologists identify the tumor; neurosurgeons verify its presence
by observing the lesion with their naked eyes; and pathologists confirm
the diagnosis by examination of the tissues. In contrast, the existence
of John Smith's mental disease--say, schizophrenia--is declared and socially
verified. His alleged illness is identified by psychiatrists, who diagnose
his behavior as schizophrenia; other psychiatrists verify its presence
by committing him to a mental hospital, where he acquires the fight to
refuse treatment, which he exercises, and a judge confirms the diagnosis 
by declaring him mentally incompetent to refuse treatment.

Because the idea of mental illness combines a mistaken conceptualization 
(of nondisease as disease) with an immoral justification (of coercion as 
cure), the effect is two pronged: it corrupts language and curtails freedom
and responsibility. Because psychiatrists have power over persons denominated
as patients, their descriptive statements typically function as covert
prescriptions. For instance, psychiatrists may describe a man who asserts
that he hears God's voice telling him to kill his wife as schizophrenic.

This "diagnosis" functions as a prescription: for example, to hospitalize
the patient involuntarily (lest he kill his wife) or, after he has killed
her, to acquit him as not guilty by reason of insanity and again hospitalize
him against his will.

This coercive-tactical feature of psychiatric diagnosis is best appreciated
by contrasting medical with psychiatric diagnosis. Diagnosis of bodily
illness is the operative word that justifies a physician to admit to a
hospital a patient who wants to be so admitted. Diagnosis of mental illness
is the operative word that justifies a judge to incarcerate in a mental
hospital a sex criminal who has completed his prison sentence.

So long as there are no objective, physicochemical observations shown to 
be causally related to depression and schizophrenia, the claim that they 
are brain diseases is unsubstantiated. In the absence of such evidence,
psychiatrists rest their claim that these major mental diseases are brain
diseases largely on the contention that drugs keep the disease processes
"under control." The absurdity of this claim lies in its own consequences.

Diabetes is kept under control by insulin. When patients stop taking their
medication, the disease process flares up and kills them. Lupus is kept
under control bv steroids. When patients stop taking their medication,
the disease process flares up and kills them.

This is not what happens when patients with serious mental diseases stop 
taking their medication. Depression is kept under control by antidepressants.
When patients stop taking their medication. the disease process flares
up, but the disease does not kill them. They kill themselves, an act psychiatrists
attribute to their so-called mental illness. Schizophrenia is kept under 
control by anti-psychotic drugs. When patients stop taking their medication,
the disease process flares up, but the disease does not kill them. They
kill someone else, an act psychiatrists attribute to their supposed illness.

If we restrict the concept of treatment to a voluntary relationship between
a medical practitioner and a competent client, then a coerced medical intervention
imposed on persons not legally incompetent is, by definition, assault and
battery, not treatment. Psychiatry is thus a systematic violation of this
legal-political principle, one that is especially odious because most persons
treated against their will by psychiatrists are defined as legally competent: they
can vote, marry and divorce, etc. It is important to keep in mind that,
in a free society. the physician's "right" to treat a person rests not
on the diagnosis, but on the subject's consent to treatment.

Regardless of psychiatric diagnosis, the typical mental patient is entitled
to liberty, unless convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment. If
that patient breaks the law and is convicted, then he or she ought to be 
punished for it as prescribed by the criminal law. In a free society, a
person ought not to profit from psychiatric excuses or suffer from psychiatric

Thomas Szasz is profesoor of psychiatry emeritus, State University of New
York Health Science Center, Syracuse.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

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