Explain the key arguments presented by Thomas Szasz

Assess the significant strengths and weaknesses. psychiatry is against autonomy and individual choice. psychiatry is based on false assumptions which cannot be proven. and finally, that psychiatry should be a means through which there is an attempt to help individuals understand themselves and others in society.

One of the most significant arguments made by Szasz against psychiatry is that psychiatrists are successors to priests and other religious figures. This succession came about through getting directly involved in the attempt to solve the various problems that seem to be plaguing individuals, especially in the case where it was believed that these individuals needed spiritual intervention (Szasz 1974, p.181). He argues that this is exactly the case with modern psychiatry where practitioners seek to classify the various problems of living that some individuals in society might have as mental illnesses. The argument of classification is strength because it creates a situation where the psychiatrist comes to have incredible control over the lives of his patients and this in such a manner that he is able to determine what he would like to do with them. That psychiatrists have a level of power over their patients comes about through their being able to recommend that they be confined in mental institutions for a certain period as a means of treating their mental illnesses. It creates a situation where it is extremely difficult for individuals in society to escape the clutches of control because psychiatrists, using medical terms, act as priests did using religious terms, can still impose control over those who have put their faith in them. A weakness of this argument is that it does not attempt to show the origins of the behaviours which can be considered as not being normal within human society. Such behaviours include the mentality of murderers who do not feel remorse for their actions despite the latter being horrific.

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