Four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical school, one year of internship, three years of residency: all to be a psychiatrist. The author of this book, himself a psychiatrist, wonders, Why bother?
Psychiatrists, he argues, have no business being physicians. Physicians deal with "bodily processes," psychiatrists with "social processes." Physicians are concerned with disease, psychiatrists with "social, moral, political and economic" problems. Physicians correct "undesirable bodily states," usually with the patient's consent; psychiatrists modify behavior that is undesirable to society, often without consent.
Why, then, do psychiatrists "disguise" themselves as physicians? Why does society encourage the disguise? Mainly because it promotes society's ends. By "regulating and controlling conduct," psychiatrists protect the community from "certain kinds of deviance." For this, society rewards the psychiatrist with status, income, and laws to maintain his regulatory and coercive function.
He performs this function in two ways. First, by labeling such persons as