Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Medicalization of Everyday Life

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 25 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3696
  1. A Mark Clarfield, director, Medical School for International Health, and Sidonie Hecht Professor of Geriatrics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel
  1. markclar{at}

“Psychiatry is medicalization, through and through. Whatever aspect of psychiatry psychiatrists claim is not medicalization, is not medicalization only if it deals with proven disease, in which case it belongs to neurology, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, or neurosurgery, not psychiatry.” The psychiatrist Thomas Szasz makes this claim in this collection of essays, the first of which was published in 1973. The book (the title plays on Freud’s The Psychopathology of Everyday Life) is misnamed, however, because it deals almost only with psychiatric illness. Szasz is one of the proponents of the widespread so called anti-psychiatry movement, along with R D Laing, Michel Foucault, and Franco Basaglia. His other books include The Myth of Mental Illness (1960) …

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