Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation

By Gary C. Woodward | Go to book overview

acceptance. When placed in their historical contexts, new findings are rarely as dramatic as the artificially compressed time of history makes them seem. Even such monumental developments as the discovery of oxygen in the late 1700s and X rays in the late 1800s came about incrementally, after a considerable period when these physical phenomena were alternately discounted and considered. It took nearly a decade for the discovery of X rays to reshape fully older paradigms about electromagnetic theory. One reason change is slow even in science has less to do with the processes of establishing certain proofs and more to do with the psychology of organizations. Few formally structured disciplines are able to handle the unexpected conclusion or the novel result very well. The "professionalization" of science into camps of people subdivided into disciplines has always led "to an immense restriction of the scientist's vision and to a considerable resistance to paradigm change.61


SZASZ'S PLACE

Taking Kuhn's long view, in addition to what we noted earlier in this chapter about the "serial" nature of persuasion, it is possible to project a pattern of limited but significant effects. Without a doubt, Szasz's libertarian polemics and all-ornothing arguments have given his critics reasons to ignore him. But the consistency of his attacks on eminently questionable practices, such as his field's reliance on the disease metaphor, has also had an impact on American psychiatry. If his critics are reluctant to concede that he has been right, most of them at least acknowledge that he has raised important ethical issues to a higher level of visibility. Unlike few others in his field, Szasz has pressed psychiatric and legal professionals to defend their orientations to both the patient and the "public good." He has also provided the valuable service of demystifying his field in a way that has led to the empowerment of its clients and critics. In the hundreds of tracts he has published -- and in ways we will never be ble to trace fully -- he has reclaimed issues of mental health ethics as topics for general public discussion.


NOTES
1
Thomas S. Szasz, "The Concept of Mental Illness: Explanation or Justification", in Concepts of Health and Disease, ed. Arthur L. Caplan, H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., and James J. McCartney (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1981), p. 466.
2
Charles Krauthammer, "The Myth of Thomas Szasz", The New Republic December 22, 1979, p. 13.
3
Peter Sedgwick, Psycho Politics: Laing, Foucault, Goffman, Szasz, and the Future of Mass Psychiatry ( New York: Harper & Row, 1982), p. 158.
4
Maggie Scarf, "Normality Is a Square Circle or a Four-Sided Triangle", New York Times Magazine October 3, 1971, p. 16.
5
Thomas S. Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness ( New York: Hoeber-Harper, 1961). A shorter version of the book's argument is presented in idem, "The Myth of Mental Illness", American Psychologist, February 1960, pp. 113-118.

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Persuasive Encounters: Case Studies in Constructive Confrontation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Title Page *
  • 1 - The Politics of Confrontation: From John Lennon to Wendell Phillips 1
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - Persuasive Encounters: A Theoretical Overview 27
  • Notes 49
  • 3 - Edward Kennedy: Behind Enemy Lines 53
  • Notes 75
  • 4 - "This Just Might Do Nobody Any Good": Edward R. Murrow and the News Directors 77
  • Notes 96
  • 5 - The Theater of Conflict: "Donahue" in Russia 99
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Thomas Szasz and the War against Coercive Psychiatry 133
  • Notes 159
  • 7 - "How Am I Doing?": Gorilla Politics in the Town Meetings of Ed Koch 163
  • Notes 185
  • Selected Bibliography 189
  • Index 193
  • About the Author *
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