richard hallam

Abolishing the Concept of Mental Illness: Rethinking the Nature of our Woes
Richard Hallam, April 2018
Routledge | Hardback, Paperback, and eBook

ISBN-10: 1138063134
ISBN-13: 978-1138063136

In Abolishing the Concept of Mental Illness: Rethinking the Nature of Our Woes, Richard Hallam takes aim at the very concept of mental illness, and explores new ways of thinking about and responding to psychological distress.

Though the concept of mental illness has infiltrated everyday language, academic research, and public policy-making, there is very little evidence that woes are caused by somatic dysfunction. This timely book rebuts arguments put forward to defend the illness myth and traces historical sources of the mind/body debate; the author discusses what it means in concrete clinical terms to consider mental illness as a metaphor, and presents a balanced overview of the past utility and current disadvantages of employing a medical illness metaphor against the backdrop of current UK clinical practice.

Insightful and easy to read, Abolishing the Concept of Mental Illness will appeal to all professionals and academics working in clinical psychology, as well as psychotherapists and other mental health practitioners.



Book cover * Table of contents
1. Introducing the issues
2. Thomas Szasz and the myth of mental illness
3. ’Mental’ and ‘bodily’ causes of woes: A brief history
4. ‘Major depression’: The creation of a mythical disease
5. Agency, rationality, and the concept of mental illness
6. Medicalisation: Resistance or replacement?
7. Well-being and mental health
8. A future without the concept of mental illness

* Reviews and Endorsements

"This thought-provoking book is a welcome addition to the now large literature criticising current theory and practice around ‘mental health’. . . He invites us to consider a future without the concept of mental illness, no small task considering how deeply the ideas of mental illness, disorder and treatment are embedded in our culture. His analysis of the shortcomings and confused arguments of aspirational mental health policy documents and of the related topics of ‘well-being’ and ‘positive psychology’ are particularly illuminating, if dispiriting."
Mary Boyle, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology, University of East London

"I can thoroughly recommend this scholarly exploration of how contemporary research and understanding of what is termed ‘mental illness’ poses significant limitations on the provision of care of those in need of help. . . He carefully explores the benefits of society adopting a much broader psycho-social and philosophical approach to research and ”therapy” for those who experience so-called ‘mental illness’."
David J de L Horne, Honorary Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Australia

"Richard Hallam considers the case for abolition of the concept of Mental Illness in both popular and scientific discourse and replacing it with the more grounded concept of human woes. His arguments betray the intimate knowledge of an experienced health professional leaving few stones unturned; each issue addressed with thought-provoking clarity and with examples illustrating both problems with the illness concept and solutions through current alternative approaches."
Kieron O’Connor, University Institute of Mental Health at Montreal, Professor, Psychiatry Department, University of Montreal





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