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Brains, Minds and Psychosis

Brains, Minds and Psychosis

The Myth that Mental Illnesses are Brain Diseases

(p.148) 7 Brains, Minds and Psychosis
Doctoring the Mind
Richard P. Bentall
NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the question of whether the brains of psychiatric patients are abnormal. Emil Kraepelin assumed that the answer to the question was “yes,” but was unable to provide definitive evidence to support his conviction. Meanwhile, Thomas Szasz retorted that the answer was “no,” and made this assumption the foundation of his objections to conventional psychiatry. The chapter shows that this question is not as straightforward as has often been supposed, and that attempts to answer it have led more often to confusion than to clarity. It illustrates the complaints-orientated approach to psychopathology by describing the current understanding of the mechanisms responsible for paranoid delusions and hallucinations. Far from assuming that abnormal cerebral functioning is the primary cause of illness, complaints-orientated research shows that the troubled brain cannot be isolated from the social universe.

Keywords:   psychiatric patients, brain, conventional psychiatry, psychopathology, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, complaints-orientated research

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