chapter  17
19 Pages

Should Some People Be Labeled Mentally Ill?

The consummate iconoclast, Ellis considers whether to attack the icon of mental illness. His approach is revealed in the first word of the title-“Should,” for, in Ellis’ world, there are no “absolute shoulds.” Therefore, there is no absolute necessity to maintain or discard the concept of mental illness. Rather, there are “preferential shoulds”—on the whole, either it is better to maintain the concept or to discard it. With this REBT philosophy in mind, Ellis systematically presents pros and cons of the use of the “mentally ill” label, comparing the utility of this label with that of historical alternatives (e.g., demonic possession, sin, and evil), and with newer alternatives. Therefore, it may correctly be said that Ellis writes as a scientist.