2018-02Thematic Section
Psychiatry and Anti-psychiatry: History, Rhetoric and Reality


The term “anti-psychiatry” was coined in 1912 by Dr. Bernhard Beyer, but only popularized by Dr. David Copper (and his critics) in the midst of a widespread cultural revolt against involuntary hospitalization and in-patient psychiatry during the 1960s and 1970s. However, with the demise of the old-fashioned mental hospital, and the rise of Big Pharma (with all its attendant evils), the term “anti-psychiatry” has outlived its usefulness. It survives merely as a term of abuse or a badge of honor, depending on the user and what rhetorical work this label is expected to perform. Those who use the term nowadays generally have a polemical axe to grind, and seldom understand the term’s origins or implications. It is time that serious scholars retire this term, or to restrict its use to R.D.Laing’s followers in the Philadelphia Associates and kindred groups that sprang up in the late 1960s and 1970s.


psychiatry, anti-psychiatry, psychoanalysis, DSM V, Big Pharma, normalization, psychopolitics

How to cite:

Burston, Daniel. “Psychiatry and Anti-psychiatry: History, Rhetoric and Reality.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 2, no. 2(4) (2018): 75–88. https://doi.org/10.26319/4717.


Daniel Burston,
Associate Professor, Psychology Department, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh PA


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