Anti-Psychiatry & John Locke
To the Editor:
In “The Ideology of Homelessness” [March], Joseph Adelson launches an attack on what he calls “anti-psychiatry.” The attack is rife with imprecision, inaccuracies, and straw-man arguments.
Mr. Adelson begins his article by citing the pathetic case of a “deranged man” who shouts incoherently about conspiracy. He claims that his example represents only the tip of the iceberg of homelessness in America, a problem he attributes to the precipitous emptying of mental hospitals, “perhaps the greatest social-policy fiasco of an era which specialized in them.” As a result, Mr. Adelson says, there were “[T]ens of thousands of insane people on the streets.” Leaving aside the use of the word “insane,” which is neither a medical nor (currently) a psychiatric term, it should be noted that Mr. Adelson then creates a strange causal continuum leading to his ultimate bête noire: “anti-psychiatry.” He attributes the “decision to empty the mental hospitals” to “an ideological decision deriving from strong convictions about both the nature of psychosis and the function of the hospital.” This ideology is traced from 1950′s “behaviorist learning theory” to the critics of personality-theory orthodoxy to “situation-ism” and finally to “anti-psychiatry.”
About the Author