Perspectives on Mental Illness

For the first few units of this course, we are observing the different concepts of mental illness and addiction and how they are something that society defines or constructs.

In this paper, share your thoughts about:
The idea of mental illness being shaped and defined by society
The positive and negative implications of the idea that mental illness and drug addiction are by-products of society and therefore, evolve and change over time.
Whether or not you think this is a positive or a negative way of viewing mental health and addiction.
Research information and find a minimum of three outside sources.

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Keep in mind:
The information you should address is more than a simple statement of agreement or disagreement. A well-written paper should identify the strengths AND weaknesses of BOTH positions, as well as a statement of what positions YOU lean towards.

Grading Rubric:
My paper discusses the concept of the social construction of mental illness
Discusses cultural issues in recognizing mental illness
Recognizes why some people believe mental illness doesn’t exist
Gave at least one example of how society is dealing with mental illness
Discussed the tension between protecting society and the rights of the sufferer
Identifies how views of mental illness have changed in society
Identified anyways the treatment of mental illness has been impacted
Resources are correctly referred to in your paper and cited in your bibliography
Writing mechanics, spelling and grammar

There is not a specific length to the paper, but it is anticipated you should be able to complete this paper in 3-4 pages not counting your title page and bibliography.

Some videos and their description that are related to this essay assignment that was posted by the instructor and may be useful in writing the paper

You do not have to watch all of them but if you need an idea of where the concept of this assignment is coming from and you have the time I think they will help get the ideas flowing for the paper. The last two are longer videos and if you don’t want to watch them that’s fine, I would at least watch the first two.

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Dr. Thomas Szasz on Psychiatry (3:51 min. long) –
Thomas Szasz has been very influential in establishing the idea that mental illness does not exist and has been created in an effort to control people. His work has been central to the issue that Scientology has with mental illness. This video is less than 5 minutes. As you watch the video, pay very close attention to the concept of mental illness being socially defined by society. You do not need to decide if you agree or disagree with Dr. Szasz. Just listen to his argument and keep his position in mind as we go through the course.

Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology (8:58 min. long) –
Jeffrey Schaler is on the side of the discussion that says mental illness does not exist as an illness. As you watch this video, pay close attention to his argument that mental illness is socially constructed and is used to control people.

Dr. Steve Wiseman Investigates Thomas Szasz Scientology –
Dr. Steve Wiseman makes a fairly articulate refuting of Thomas Szasz’s “Myth of Mental Illness”. I want to warn you, Dr. Wiseman isn’t exactly a fireball and can come across a bit dry, but his content is really good. There are six videotapes that are about 10 minutes each. You do not need to watch all six (you are welcome to do so there is a lot of great content in all of the videos.) Watch the first 3 videos at least.

The Social Construction of Mental Illness (17 min. long) –
Instructor Video Lecture that discusses the concept that society creates mental illness. For more information on Perspectives on Mental Illness check out:

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