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(1985). An Open Letter to David Will. Brit. J. Psychother., 1(3):226-228.

(1985). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1(3):226-228

An Open Letter to David Will


In his criticism of the Maudsley School and the Anti-Psychiatric movement David Will characterises these antithetical approaches as both sharing the same positivistic epistomological presuppositions. Consequently, he claims that these schools mirror each other in their theoretical practice, ‘demarcate areas of forbidden knowledge, conflate epistemology and ontology, and deny that reasons can be causes’. Will indicates that Transcendental Realism will overcome the unproductive distortions of this matching pair. However through an implicit claiming of a spurious scientific neutrality his article betrays a close endorsement of the medicalisation of psychotherapeutic concerns, and a grave misunderstanding of AntiPsychiatry, which is merely a way station within a much wider discursive order.

The Medicalisation of Psychotherapeutic Concerns

Firstly there is a quite explicit privileging of the Maudsley School at the expense of the Anti-Psychiatric movement whilst claiming that they are merely opposite sides of the same positivistic coin. Will wishes ‘to make it clear that [he is] in no way disputing that in certain areas e.g., epidemiology and psychopharmacology, the Maudsley School has made an undoubted contribution to psychiatric knowledge’. As this was never in dispute and given that there is no such explicit endorsement of the anti-psychiatric contribution, one is left with the indelible impression of moving towards the ultimate absurdity that, for example, Leff and Wing's 1968 study of ‘the use of phenothiazines in the treatment of schizophrenia’ has made a greater impact on the understanding of psychosis than the work of R.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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