Sartrean Account of Mental Health

THEORIA №.3, 2017 pp.17-31

Jelena Krgović

ABSTRACT: The anti-psychiatrists in the 1960’s, specifically Thomas Szasz, have claimed that mental illness does not exist. This argument was based on a specific definition of physical disease that, Szasz argued, could not be applied to mental illness. Thus, by problematizing mental illness, the spotlight had turned to physical disease. Since then, philosophers of medicine have proposed definitions applying both to pathophysiological and psychopathological conditions. This paper analyzes prominent naturalist definitions which aim to provide value free accounts of pathological conditions, as well as normative accounts which propose value-laden accounts. The approaches surveyed differ, not only in terms of value, but also in terms of their perspective. This perspective concerns whether the concept of health, illness or disease/disorder is emphasized. The emphasis on health or illness is holistic as it looks at the human being as a whole, while focus on disease or disorder is analytic as it considers part functions. I will here argue in favor of holism and will propose a definition of mental health based on Sartre’s existential psychoanalysis of Gustave Flaubert.

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