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Where’s the problem?: considering Laing and Esterson’s account of schizophrenia, social models of disability, and extended mental disorder

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Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Issue number4
Volume38
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)295-305
Publication statusPublished
Early online date5/07/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In this paper I compare and evaluate Laing and Esterson’s account of schizophrenia as developed in Sanity, Madness and the Family (1964), social models of disability, and accounts of extended mental disorder. These accounts claim that some putative disorders (schizophrenia, disability, certain mental disorders) should not be thought of as reflecting biological or psychological dysfunction within the afflicted individual, but are instead external problems (to be located in the family, or in the material and social environment). In this paper I consider the grounds on which such claims might be supported. I argue that problems should not be located within an individual putative patient in cases where there is some acceptable test environment in which there is no problem. A number of cases where such an argument can show that there is no internal disorder are discussed. I argue, however, that Laing and Esterson’s argument, that schizophrenia is not within diagnosed patients, does not work. The problem with their argument is that they fail to show that the diagnosed women in their study function adequately in any environment.

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The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11017-017-9413-0