Mental health as rational autonomy

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (3):309-322 (1981)
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Rather than eliminate the terms "mental health and illness" because of the grave moral consequences of psychiatric labeling, conservative definitions are proposed and defended. Mental health is rational autonomy, and mental illness is the sustained loss of such. Key terms are explained, advantages are explored, and alternative concepts are criticized. The value and descriptive components of all such definitions are consciously acknowledged. Where rational autonomy is intact, mental hospitals and psychotherapists should not think of themselves as treating an illness. Instead, they are functioning as applied axiologists, moral educators, spiritual mentors, etc. They deal with what Szasz has called "personal, social, and ethical problems in living." But mental illness is real.

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Rem B. Edwards
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Citations of this work

Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics.Jonathan Pugh - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Philosophy of Psychology and Psychiatry.Jonathan Y. Tsou - forthcoming - In Flavia Padovani & Adam Tamas Tuboly (eds.), Handbook of the History of Philosophy of Science. Routledge.
Psychopathy: Morally Incapacitated Persons.Heidi Maibom - 2017 - In Thomas Schramme & Steven Edwards (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine. Springer. pp. 1109-1129.
A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.R. P. Bentall - 1992 - Journal of Medical Ethics 18 (2):94-98.
Schizophrenia, mental capacity, and rational suicide.Jeanette Hewitt - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 31 (1):63-77.

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