The contradictions of Anti-psychiatry and the innovation of mad politics by the Autistic sub-section of Neurodiversity
It can be pointed out as ironic that the sub-discipline of mad studies is now located within disability studies and not the other way around. Instead of the social model of disability existing as some unheard of innovation in thinking around disability that had not appeared until the 1980s, reading David Cooper’s 1967 book named Psychiatry and Anti-Psychiatry should lead many readers to recognize the appearance of the same basic argument in regard to schizophrenia at least twenty years prior to the meeting of UPIAS. In his book, Cooper uses a distinctly sociological style, arguing that unlike more directly material sciences, psychiatry relies on interpersonal interactions which are by definition inevitably disturbed by the mere attempt at “observing” socially and that schizophrenic descriptions of influence by outside entities are merely descriptions of social and cultural influence (4). The argument can be simplified to mean that the social and cultural norms “create” the pathology in question, through stigmatizing certain behaviors outside of the understanding of the social observer (9-10). Unlike the disability rights movement, Cooper is influenced heavily by Existentialists such as Sartre. But similarly, Cooper’s work does not begin with the poststructuralist nuance being newly arrived upon by other scholars of his generation in literary theory and cultural studies, such as Derrida, Lyotard and countless others. Furthermore, what is notable is that the systems Cooper was critiquing extended far beyond psychiatry; reference is made to not only psychiatry but to “learning theory” and psychology as well. All of these bases for the anti-psychiatry argument then position such an argument as an extremist “social model” of madness that presumes that madness is a socially imposed category of being that does not begin with medical intervention, but with subtle otherizations within the family setting.