Trotsky / Breton / Rivera

David Quarter davidquarter at
Fri Mar 7 20:45:55 MST 2003

>   Well, there is a difference between medications prescribed for
> > physical
> >  difficulties like arthritis, and medications prescribed for so-
> > called
> >  "mental illness". One is used to relieve actual pain caused by some
> >  biologically -based problem in the body, the other is used to
> > reduce
> >  (or better yet, hide!) symptoms that are deemed problematic to
> >  [bourgeois] society (and has little to do with helping relieve the
> >  suffering of the people with the actual problems).
> I think your formulation here is rather undialectical.


Many people
> take psychopharmaceutics because they are seeking relief
> from conditions such as depression (Carrol Cox used to post
> on this issue rather frequently on this list). >>>>

  There are other ways to seek relief for depression, apart from
ingesting, say, SSRIs.

Yes. The issue is not as straightforward as I presented it. I was
providing a general overview of the differences between the two
issues. Unfortunately, I  don't have the time to explore the topic in
the greater detail.

That is not deny
> that many psychopharmaceutics are often used for social control
> purposes.  And I would argue that very often psychpharmaceutics
> are often used for both purposes at once, as seems to be
> often the case with the medication of diagnosed schizophrenics.
> You seem to be denying that much of what we call "mental illness"
> does have biological causes.>>>>

  Yes. That's what I'm saying. Much of the psychiatric diagnoses in
the DSM are based upon symptomology. With some exceptions,
there has been no discovery of any biological differences with the
brain mechanisms of persons with so-called mental illnesses
(which encompasses a wide array of symptoms) and so-called
normal people.

 In the case of people suffering
> from dementias, the organic etiologies are often readily
> apparent upon medical observation and testing. >>>>

 see my previous remarks.

 Also, it
> would seem that for many people it is the interactions between
> their biological conditions>>>>

  It would seem, perhaps. There is just no proof to make the

 and the stresses caused by their
> social environments that lies behind their symptoms.

There is however ample proof that one's social environments can
contribute to the onset of the certain symptoms (e.g. depression or

> I am not so sure that one can so easily draw a line between
> somatic illness and mental illness as you seem to think.>>>>

 To an extent, right. But, people labeled as "mentally ill" are
much more controlled than people with biologically-based problems. They
are also a lot more stigmatized by the label they have been assigned.

> Underlying your rather Szaszian position, seems to be a kind
> of Cartesian dualism.

 I know  little about Descartes.

> >In other words,
> > the
> >  first acts as more of an aid, the second acts primarily as a social
> >  control mechanism. The diagnosis of arthristis is judged upon known
> >  side-effects that can be detected and seen through a microscope,
> >  whereas 'mental illness' has never been detected and therefore has
> >  never been proven to even exist!
> Well until quite recently there were no tests for Alzheimer's. Diagnoses
> of the illness were made on the basis of a thoroughgoing differential
> diagnostic process, in which all possible alternative conditions that
> could cause the symptoms observed in the patient, had been excluded.
> The fact that no test existed for detecting Alzheimer's did not mean that
> the disease did not exist.>>>>

 As stated, there are a  wide array of symptoms that fall under the
label "mental illness".

> And on the question of social control, your position seems to deny
> that there is a social control component to somatic medicine.>>>>

 Nope. Just more at the present time for "mental illness".

> I would contend that such is not the case.  Even in the case of
> the illness, arthritis, which you discuss, a social control component
> can often be detected in the way it is treated by physicians.  Conditions
> like arthritis can often impose costs on employers due to resulting
> absences from work and lessened productivity, therefore this
> creates pressures on the medical community to provide palliative
> care that will enable workers to go back to work.  Also, on a more
> theoretical level, sociologists from Talcott Parsons to Eliott Friedson
> have analyzed the ways in which somatic medicine has come to
> exercize social control functions in our society.  Psychiatrists are
> not the only physicians that act as social control agents.>>>>>>

I agree.



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