Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1990

Published In

Journal Of Mind And Behavior


The mental health professions operate largely so as to objectify a language of mental deficit. In spite of their humane intentions, by constructing a reality of mental deficit the professions contribute to hierarchies of privilege, reduce natural interdependencies within the culture, and lend themselves to self-enfeeblement. This infirming of the culture is progressive, such that when common actions are translated into a professionalized language of mental deficit, and this language is disseminated, the culture comes to construct itself in these terms. This leads to an enhanced dependency on the professions and these are forced, in turn, to invent additional terms of mental deficit. Thus, concepts of infirmity have spiraled across the century, and virtually all remaining patterns of action stand vulnerable to deficit translation. Required within the professions are new linguistic formulations that create a reality of relationships without evaluative fulcrum.


This work is freely available courtesy of the Institute of Mind and Behavior.

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