SHS Web Conf.
Volume 161, 202312th Kant-Readings International Conference “Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance”
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Science, Technology, and Enlightenment Ethics|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
Kant’s concept of madness, psychiatry and anti-psychiatry
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, 14 Aleksandra Nevskogo st., 236016 Kaliningrad, Russia
* Corresponding author: DPolyanskii@kantiana.ru
Critics of psychiatry (or “anti-psychiatrists”) such as philosopher Michel Foucault, sociologist Erving Goffman and physician Ronald David Laing tend to view psychiatry as a form of social control, one of the state institutions of oppression. The concept of “norm” in relation to mental health is understood as culturally conditioned. Psychiatry is used to isolate and “stigmatise” the carriers of non-normative rationality, individuals with different states of mind and patterns of behaviour. Kant has no objections to the practice of forced treatment of the insane, assuming they are declared incompetent. At the same time, Kant considers it necessary to entrust the very procedure of declaring a person incompetent not to medical professionals, but to philosophers. This is due to the fact that Kant sees mental illness as a breakdown, a weakness in cognitive abilities. Kant shares the modernist ideal of a single normative rationality, which is the basis of moral abilities and a guarantee of personal autonomy. In contrast, anti-psychiatry proceeds from the postmodern idea of the diversity of forms of rationality, or refuses entirely to evaluate reason (sanity) as an essential attribute of human nature, thereby justifying the irrational and non-rational aspects of human existence. From this perspective, insane people appear as stigmatised carriers of alternative, non-normative rationality. Accordingly, such people should be protected from any medical coercion, because doctors, when making their decisions, proceed from culturally conditioned criteria of rationality and from a very relative and changing psychiatric norm.
Key words: psychiatry history / anti-psychiatry / Kant / madness / mental illness
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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