Thoughts on economics and liberty

Thomas Szasz’s fears about the GROSS misuse of psychiatry – and India’s new Mental Healthcare Act 2017

You might be aware of Thomas Szasx, about who’s work I have written a number of blog posts earlier (see this).

Basically, Szasz revolutionised psychiatry across the world and tried to prevent the gross encroachment by dishonest government psychiatrists on basic liberties of the people.

Someone sent me material in which this article of 2015 in Outlook was cited. The article is an interview with Vikram Patel of London:

Well, being admitted under a magistrate’s order based on the current mental health act to a mental hospital is one of the most terrifying experiences that anyone in this country can experience: your basic rights to liberty and dignity are taken away from you, and you are likely to find yourself in a colonial- era asylum, in crowded and insanitary living quarters, locked away and forgotten by society.

This act (India’s Mental Health Act 1987) has been repealed in April 2017 and replaced by the Mental Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (gazette notification).

The issue with the previous act was the spurious issue of Reception Orders (see this study). Reception Orders are basically detention (arrest) orders. [This is a good slideshow on the Mental Health Act 1987.]

I’ve quickly scanned google and come across a some positive reviews of this act. However, the same review cites some remaining concerns.

I’d like to find out more, whether whether psychiatrists in India are being brought under leash by the new Act.

I am informed that Section 102 of the 2017 Act (below) can still be used by unscrupulous officials. The relevant section states:

102. (1) When any person with mental illness or who may have a mental illness appears or is brought before a Magistrate, the Magistrate may, order in writing––

(a) that the person is conveyed to a public mental health establishment for assessment and treatment, if necessary and the mental health establishment shall deal with such person in accordance with the provisions of the Act; or

(b) to authorise the admission of the person with mental illness in a mental health establishment for such period not exceeding ten days to enable the medical officer or mental health professional in charge of the mental health establishment to carry out an assessment of the person and to plan for necessary treatment, if any.

If you know much about these two Acts, please let me know how the new Act deals with human freedom.


Sanjeev Sabhlok

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2 thoughts on “Thomas Szasz’s fears about the GROSS misuse of psychiatry – and India’s new Mental Healthcare Act 2017
  1. Roy

    Theoretically, unlike other issues of health, a person with unhealthy mind has no way to know that one is unhealthy. Someone else need to do this on that person’s behalf.

  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    This is precisely what Thomas Szasz questioned. Do read his work, else you will remain in perpetual darkness.