All through my studies i have always thought Dr. Szasz was completely wrong in say that there is no such thing as mental illness, that it is just a label put on people that are different from ourselves.  But, studying developmental psychology i am beginning to wonder if there could be some truth to it.

The background: psychologists are finding that the brain is not fully developed by the age of 21 (on the average for most).  And most mental illnesses are not showing until the age of 22 (again thats the average, illnesses like schizophrenia, bi-polar, borderline personality disorder and so on).

The Theory: Knowing that the brain is not fully developed until the age of 21 could it be that what a mental illness is is just different brain development, or abnormal brain development?

If this theory is tested and proved this would show that Dr. Thomas Szasz was accurate in his assumption that mental illness is just merely a label, and that there is really no such thing, it would really be just different brain development.

What say the court? ideas and opinions? Im trying to contact Dr. Szasz himself to find if he has conducted research about this and his theory.

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This is just relabelling. Its not 'mental illness' - its 'differently mentally developed'. Relabelling can affect the stigma attached to it, but whatever you call it, the results and consequences in people's lives are going to be the same.

But labelling can be very powerful. I remember a sociology study from the '70s about students who pretended to be mentally ill, got admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and then acted normal. The staff still treated them as mentally ill, regardless of how them behaved, due to the label.

Relabelling 'mental illnes' as 'differently developed' might affect treatment practise and social attitudes. But it won't make it go away. Would certainly help hospital budgets and national health statistics though.

This is not just relabeling at all.  IF we could prove something like this could be true then that would reshape psychology and how we deal with mental illness.

Anthony, yours is an interesting opinion but most mental illness has a physiological root. example: chemical imbalance.

Other mental ilnesses such as multiple personality disorder and

anti social personality dsiorder have to do with childhood abuse and living circumstances.

chemical imbalance because of abnormal brain development?  You see if we could test this theory this would explain why these imbalances happen.  And there is not adequate enough proof to say that mental illness is caused by any external factors.  I wont go into the nature vs. nurture debate because that is not what this thread is about.  But no psychologist will agree with another to that question of external factors.

I started a thread about the nature vs nurture debate.

Can you please add your opinion to it?

chemical imbalance because of abnormal brain development?  You see if we could test this theory this would explain why these imbalances happen.  And there is not adequate enough proof to say that mental illness is caused by any external factors.  I wont go into the nature vs. nurture debate because that is not what this thread is about.  But no psychologist will agree with another to that question of external factors.

Oh Anthony, this makes no sense at all what you have said here.

chemical imbalance because of abnormal brain development?

1st of all I have a Granddaughter who just turned 14 yrs old, she was diagnosed with a Chemical Imbalance at age 2 yrs old. This is all has just gotten worse even though her brain was completely normal. She is now Add/ADHD/ and now Bi-Polar borderline psychotic heading into schizophrenia.

I wont go into the nature vs. nurture debate because that is not what this thread is about.

Why not, my Granddaughter was and is raised in a home very well loved, we all just have to sure she gets her med's at the right time. I agree with Starrfire here, you are throwing out the Baby with the bath water and water tub all at the same time based on a man who doesn't believe in what millions do believe in and if this Topic is only about your agreement about Thomas Szasz Then it needs to go more into that direction and only what he believes in. Which I sense you have made your mind up on this without allow the Debaters on the Thread even know who he really is and why he doesn't believe like all other psychiatrists believe.

But no psychologist will agree with another to that question of external factors.


Here you may have said the very wrong, you see my Son is a 1st LT Naval Air Commander, and him and his family have traveled all over the states and many other Countries, all of my Granddaughters Medical files go with them and she given a New psychiatrist who 1st reads her file and then picks up right where her other psychiatrist left off at in order to keep her on the Straight and narrow. Never once out of 14 psychiatrists in different areas have they found any difference except during her growth sprites that can through her off at times.

Has far as Thomas Stephen Szasz; "Dr. Thomas Szasz, “who has argued for years that ‘these things called mental illnesses are not diseases at all but part of the vicissitudes of life,’ dismissing psychiatry as a specialty without a medical cause.”

Today, of course, Szasz is mostly remembered, if he is remembered at all, as the great silly, a flat-earth adherent in the time of telescopes and globes. Most medical students graduate without ever hearing his name. Peers who once grappled fiercely with his ideas are now surprised to find out he is still alive. His voluminous writings largely gather dust in libraries and used book stores. At a 1996 debate, well-known psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey summed up the sentiment nicely with a joke that began: “Let me ask an important question. And this is a question that will be asked by future generations. The question is: Who was Dr. Szasz?” Few in the audience needed a punch line. The question itself was dénouement enough. “If he is unable to acknowledge his big mistake,” Torrey finished, “I think the answer to the question will be: ‘Dr Szasz was the man who wrote The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop and Horton Hatches the Egg.’” The audience roared.


I now would like to introduce you to this man Anthony seems to take all to heart with, you all can just Google his name and find out for yourself, but one very interesting link I listened to is here:

In other words, don't go to this 89 + year old Quack that even his own colleagues disagreed with.

Blessings to you all,


I agree Tea. In all honesty anyone who has such open and shut theories as this usually is a quack. I have been in and out of the mental health scene since I was 19, and I am now 42. I was raised in a very abusive household..most of which I do not remember but plenty of it I do. I know the difference between emotional issues with myself and the things that are mental (such as having strong thoughts that someone is coming to hurt me and I logically know it is not true) and what is a chemical issue ( brain not producing what it needs to and my anxiety levels being high when there is no reason for them to be. BUT I have taken the reins in my own care and worked WITH my doctors. 

I know pills aren't the answer for me personally because they just mask things. That doesn't mean that they aren't for others and it certainly does not mean I am imagining my various symptoms. If I were imagining them or dreaming them up I would most certainly stop as it is no fun at all.

Thank you so much Amanda for your comment. I know what my Family and son and wife has gone through since my granddaughters age of 2 when she really speak true words to tell us what she wanted. The psychiatrist and her psychologist all have said that they believed she should have been on Meds at lose doses by the age of 2 years of age. But due to the age limits she couldn't even been seen by either one of the groups until the 5th grade, and that was only for her ADD/ADHD, the other 2 problems she had to have turned 13 years of age before hand. So there was no ongoing change in her life as Anthony wishes us to believe. This was a from Birth problem that the laws refused the Doctors to treat my granddaughter for.

Well at last she is on her treatments, going to her therapy and doing great at last. So Anthony, if you wish to pick apart everything I said, please try as I know this field, I studied this Field until it broke my heart with my own grand child having these problems, and I switch my Major's to Natural Sciences for Herbalism and Archaeology for the preservation of Historical lands.

BTW Anthony, if this thread had nothing to do with Thomas Szasz, please do explain why his name is in your OP and the Title of the thread, This is so misleading it is a head desk moment! Also apparently you are talking about so other psychologist and not a psychiatrist, do you even know what the deference between them both are?

A Psychologist works with the families, doctors (Family Practitioners), Private & Group Therapy's  and the DR. called a Psychiatrist. A Psychiatrist actually makes the diagnoses and prescribes what ever Medication is needed for the patients, they seen the patients maybe every 3 months after the first 2 months to assure the Med's are working right. But a Psychologist can not prescribe the Meds needed, they can how ever be assured the meds are still working properly and gives reports to the Psychiatrist.

Keep your Open mind Anthony, many don't, but most do and we need all those we can.



im happy to pick apart what you just said, cause you (and many others) close your mind because of a personal experience you have that sets your mind in a certain direction.  So here we go.

1) Abnormal brain development could happen at any age until the brain is fully developed.  This is a theory or hypothesis.  And you are unable to provide adequate information to prove that wrong.

2) You know the name of the psychologist i am talking about, this thread is not about Thomas Szasz and his biography, if you want to know about him google is your friend.

3) Great your son travels, guess what? there are different psychologists everywhere and you will find one to suit your needs wherever you may go.

4) This was just a thought that i had and wanted opinions, i am not big on believing Thomas Szasz, its just i have an open mind as that is what inspires learning and growth.

You picked apart nothing at all though. No one has a closed mind here and you have yet to provide anything other than this guys theory about mental illness being a label for people who are different. I know TONS of different people..very different. People who like BDSM, polyamourous people, goths, vegetarians, people who talk to ghosts and other spirits. They are not and do not consider themselves as mentally ill and I do not consider them mentally ill. I know people way stranger then that. People who believe they are vampires and of course we are on a pagan website where people believe they are witches, can use majick, foretell the future etc etc etc.

I think most of us on here are pretty open minded and we know the differences between people who are merely different and those who are mentally ill. 

It seems to me Anthony that you don't like the replies you are getting. What did you expect? How many people on here may go into manic episodes and don't sleep for days and perhaps may do dangerous things without even being able to stop or realize it or have husbands, wives, children etc that do that? 

How many people here have family or are themselves that are so depressed they can't get out of bed or maybe have even attempted suicide or lost family to suicide? 

That is not within the norm, that is a problem and I think the average person with average intelligence would see this as an illness. Whether or not it is organic or not is another matter and to the sufferer is a moot point. Relief is what matters.

We Have Happy Pills, Anxiety Drugs, and Therapists Galore: So Why Are We More Stressed and Depressed Than Ever?

"Our health or lack of it is the result of biochemical interactions and genetics, dietary choices, exercise patterns, sleep habits, hopes, fears, families, friends, jobs, hobbies, cultures, ecosystems, and more. Chemical imbalances in the brain may well correlate with depression, anxiety, and other emotional states but the arrows of cause and effect can point in both directions. Optimizing emotional wellness, by improving attention, changing destructive patterns of thinking, and finding contentment within, can also optimize brain chemistry, correcting any deficiencies in neurotransmitters."

that has nothing to do with the post ive made.


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