Anti-Psychiatry And The Biomedical Model: From Delusion To Disorder

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Logan Caroline Curtis-Warner (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Matthew Ruble

Abstract: Psychiatry as it functions today is largely guided by the biomedical model of mental illness, which rests upon the notion that deviations in mental functioning are biological in nature. This thesis seeks to critique this understanding of psychological distress through the lens of the philosophical tradition of anti-psychiatry, drawing primarily from the works of Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. Szasz places emphasis on the diagnostic disparities between physiological and psychological illness, arguing that the experiences and behaviors that psychiatrists class as mental diseases are actually communicative strategies utilized by individuals who lack the tools to properly address the stressors in their lives. In contrast, Foucault approaches the issue from a historico-political context, considering the power dynamics involved in the psychiatric encounter by giving an account of its evolution since the days of the asylum. Drawing from the description of the biomedical model given by investigative journalist Robert Whitaker, I will consider how the philosophies of Szasz and Foucault relate to the modern psychiatric climate. Ultimately, I will argue that it is Foucault’s perspective that best equips us to critique the biomedical model, as its origins are inevitably intertwined with economic and political power.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Curtis-Warner, L. (2020). Anti-Psychiatry And The Biomedical Model: From Delusion To Disorder. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
Philosophy, Psychology, Anti-Psychiatry

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