University students struggling with their first essays should be encouraged to present their opponent’s argument in its most convincing form to sharpen and consolidate their own position. Certainly this is a lesson which Peter Schrag has not learnt. His many proper criticisms of contemporary psychiatry, particularly as practised in America, run the risk of being ignored because of the shrillness and unqualified nature of his condemnations.
His central concern is not new. Since the early 60s the imperialistic expansion of psychiatry has been widely criticised, principally by Foucault and Szasz. Psychiatrists have been accused of aggrandising themselves by claiming ever new areas of human behaviour within the domain of professional relevance and by employing ever subtler