American Psychiatry in Transition: Reform or Revolution?
During the late 1960s psychiatry in the United States began to replicate the unrest in society at large and activism was a significant facet of that development. Just as widespread social movements across the country focused on the Vietnam War, civil rights for blacks and the advancement of feminism, there was also unrest among the nation’s mental health practitioners. Reform and revolutionary ideas characterised the therapists who sought change in American mental health. Radical psychiatry was aimed at preventing overdiagnosis, improving outmoded practices and tackling mental health by curing a ‘sick society’. But was this reform or revolution? This chapter showcases several debates about change in American psychiatry. It highlights that there was agreement on the need to transform psychiatry, yet few saw eye to eye on what that meant and how it was to be done.