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"The myth of mental illness": No phrase has had as profound an impact on public attitudes toward the mentally ill as this provocative title of a 1960 book by maverick psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. If efforts to understand the origins and effects of mental illness that have long perplexed the public, Szasz has offered an easy way out: What we call mental illness is just behavior of people who have learned to use unusual means of communication. True, they sometimes act bizarrely and appear disturbed. "Real" illnesses, however, always result from changes in body organs that can be seen under the microscope or from physiologic process that have gone awry. Mental illness lacks these manifestations. Thus, he concluded, to call these people ill serves no function other than to discount the messages--often challenges to the status quo--they are trying so desperately to get across.