Evolution of the antipsychiatry movement into mental health consumerism

Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Jun;57(6):863-6. doi: 10.1176/ps.2006.57.6.863.


This essay reviews the history and evolution of the antipsychiatry movement. Radical antipsychiatry over several decades has changed from an antiestablishment campus-based movement to a patient-based consumerist movement. The antecedents of the movement are traced to a crisis in self-conception between biological and psychoanalytic psychiatry occurring during a decade characterized by other radical movements. It was promoted through the efforts of its four seminal thinkers: Michel Foucault in France, R. D. Laing in Great Britain, Thomas Szasz in the United States, and Franco Basaglia in Italy. They championed the concept that personal reality and freedom were independent of any definition of normalcy that organized psychiatry tried to impose. The original antipsychiatry movement made major contributions but also had significant weaknesses that ultimately undermined it. Today, antipsychiatry adherents have a broader base and no longer focus on dismantling organized psychiatry but look to promote radical consumerist reform.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Deinstitutionalization / history
  • Drug Therapy / history
  • France
  • Health Promotion / history*
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Mental Disorders / history*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychiatry / history*
  • Psychiatry / methods*
  • Psychoanalysis / history*
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • United Kingdom
  • United States