giovedì 28 luglio 2016


Like the late great Thomas Szasz, my objection is that labels like ADHD medicalizepeople's choices - partly to stigmatize, but mostly to excuse.  In his words, "The business of psychiatry is to provide society with excuses disguised as diagnoses, and with coercions justified as treatments."

PREMESSA: [A] large fraction of what is called mental illness is nothing other than unusual preferences

these negative adjectives are thinly disguised normative judgments, not scientific or medical claims. Why should mental health professionals be exempt from economists' standard critique? 

The American Psychiatric Association's (APA) 1973 vote to take homosexuality off the list of mental illnesses is a microcosm of the overall field (Bayer 1981). The medical science of homosexuality had not changed; there were no new empirical tests that falsified the standard view.

Overall, the most natural way to formalize ADHD in economic terms is as a high disutility of work combined with a strong taste for variety. Undoubtedly, a person who dislikes working will be more likely to fail to 'finish school work, chores or duties in the workplace' and be 'reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort'. Similarly, a person with a strong taste for variety will be 'easily distracted 

Il piacere al centro. No one accuses a boy diagnosed with ADHD of forgetting to play videogames.

Another misconception about Szasz is that he denies the connection between physical and mental activity. The problem is that 'chemical imbalance' is a moral judgment masquerading as a medical one.

A closely related misconception is that Szasz ignores medical evidence that many mental illnesses can be effectively treated. Once again, though, the ability of drugs to change brain chemistry and thereby behavior does nothing to show that the initial behavior was 'sick'. If alcohol makes people less shy, is that evidence that shyness is a disease?