The Social Nature of Mental Illness


Debate over the true nature of mental illness is polarized between those arguing for a social and those arguing for a physiological etiology. Psychiatry finds itself at the center of this debate, its status called into question by those who claim that to treat mental disorder as a physiological ailment is to mask the social origin of the illness.

In The Social Nature of Mental Illness, Len Bowers offers an objective and philosophical critique of the theories of mental illness as a social construct. His purpose is to examine the rationality of these theories, what they might mean, and in which cases they are to be accepted or rejected. Previous work on this issue has concentrated upon empirical evidence. All that has been generated from this are opposing interpretations of the data, rather than solutions. This book examines the common ground between the apologists for and critics of psychiatry, and discusses how debate on this issue affects research into and treatment of mental illness. Len Bowers argues that many of the assertions made about the social nature of mental illness care misguided or wrong, but he concludes that they cannot be wholly rejected.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2000


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