This classic essay elevated Thomas Szasz into a position of international renown and controversy. According to Szasz, the concept of mental illness is fundamentally flawed because it is based on the premise that it is caused by nervous system disorders; in particular brain disorders which manifest themselves via abnormal thought patterns and behavior. To Thomas Szasz most cases of "mental illness" are routed within a social context, and are in fact problems of living, and should, therefore, be recognized as so.

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