Our Threatened Freedom

Is Mental Illness A Myth? (03:36)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:01 Is mental illness a myth? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom. A prominent psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Szasz, has for some years upset his fellow practitioners with his studies designed to demonstrate that mental illness is a myth. Much of Dr. Szasz’s evidence is very compelling. I do not feel competent to comment on the subject authoritatively, but I would like to suggest that perhaps we have gone overboard on calling a variety of things mental sickness.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:42 For example, many public school children today supposedly suffer from a disability known as dyslexia, which creates reading problems. When I went to school, we were all taught phonics and no one had ever heard of dyslexia. Today, in Christian schools, no one has dyslexia. Perhaps it is real, but we are entitled to some skepticism here. Another example, in 1850, 130 and some years ago, the Louisiana State Medical Society discovered and named a new disease, a mental disorder, and named it drapetomania. Drapeto is a Greek word meaning runaway.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:30 The medical commission headed by a distinguished physician, Dr. Samuel Cartright, found that this disease was a physical and mental peculiarity of the Negro race. The evidence for the medical commission was obvious and clear-cut. A great many negro slaves were running away. Some of the slave owners from whom they ran away were regarded as fine men. Obviously, running as well as had to be an indication of some kind of hereditary and racial sickness. Of course, since the doctor saw nothing wrong with slavery, it did not occur to them that these Negroes were running away from slavery. With equal logic, we can say that a medical degree gives a doctor collection-mania, since he has a strong urge to collect on all payments due to him.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:26 Seriously, however, we have gone very much astray on this question of mental sickness. We are all too prone to label people we disagree with as mentally sick. Is a man politically on right, left, or center? If so, does that make him a mental case? To be in error is one thing, and to be mentally sick a very different thing. Implicit in such a labeling is the idea that sick people should be hospitalized and confined. People with erroneous ideas have the same freedom as the rest of us. By labeling those we disagree with mentally sick, we are implying that freedom should be withdrawn from them. We are then saying freedom is something to be rationed to our side only. The implications of such labeling are death to freedom. This has been R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder